Thomas Grenzebach – Aleph/Twin

You can’t spend your life rocking out, getting down, breaking out or any such nonsense. As your grandfather no doubt told you at some point, you just have to grow up and sit down with some fine minimalist, experimental drone/ambient and be done with it. If that’s your plan for the evening, an upcoming tape on Cruel Bones may be precisely what you’re looking for. Thomas Grenzebach is an almost unknown experimental artist from Zürich, Switzerland who appeared out of nowhere a while back, releasing his debut EP Aleph online in the beginning of 2017. A few months later, sequel Twin was put out there as well. These are the two recordings that are now being made available physically on Cruel Bones, in the absurd limitation of 30 copies.

The style of the two EP:s are rather different. Aleph is ambient, vague, dreamy and suggestive. Seldom “dark” in the common sense, at times the music has a slightly cold, inhuman feel to it. This is, at the very least, the case with the droning opening track “Flux”, which somehow makes this reviewer think of Blade Runner. It may be the hiss of rain inserting itself among the drones, or it may be something else at work. The mood switches abruptly on the second track “ghost8” – a minimal, glitchy affair which might belong in some modern art museum, even when ethereal synth notes penetrate the clicking to create a very strange mood indeed. The two remaining tracks – “Otu” and “Desert Empire” both go back to the ambient formula, though each has its very own interpretation of the genre, with the latter being the by far most shadowy piece of music here.

Moving on to Twin, there is already a kind of musical maturation going on. “Volt” is a truly inspired, almost-rhythmic, glitching weirdfest, and it feels like a more mature version of “ghost8” from the previous EP. With a title that suggests some foray into political discourse, “Alternative Fact” delivers extremely reductionist synthesizer ambient with more than a few dissonant notes. While not the most pleasurable listen, it still adds to the sense that this EP is more focused on clear ideas, and rather original such at that. “ghost12” is a flanging piece of drone with a menacing touch, while “Sphere/Disappointer” begins on a quasi-ritual note before embarking on a held back, minimalist 18 minute epic journey of sound exploration.

Track-by-track reviews are usually not how we do things, but in the case of Aleph/Twin there were few other options available. Each piece here has its own distinct hallmarks, and except for minimalism and strong but bridled creativity there are few words to sum them all up. The tape is released on the 6th of August, but considering the extreme limitation you’d probably be better off preordering it from Cruel Bones. If you suffer from severe moral and aesthetic deficiencies and therefore are not into tapes, both Aleph and Twin are available for pay-what-you-please download on Bandcamp.

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