Dictaphone: Vertigo II
City Centre Offices

Oliver Doerell and Roger Doring's re-emerge with their sophomore Dictaphone outing without losing any of m.=addiction's brooding ambiance or the group's distinctive identity in the process. As before, the duo's pairing of vaguely jazz-inflected woodwinds (primarily clarinet) with the crackles, whirrs, and smears of digital electronics translates into a cool and mysterious Eastern European sound. Filtering their material through dense layers of static lends it a cinematic dimension, too, as the added textures help transform the twelve pieces into evocative montages and picturesque vignettes. At times such moves are overt—“Jarszewko,” for instance, with its babble of foreign voices and orchestral strings—while at other moments the approach is more allusive (e.g., “Night Rain,” where soft voices converse amidst a light rainstorm of electronic whooshes and woodwind exhales). Though the mood is largely funereal and sombre, the results are often not only lovely but affecting too, as shown by the delicate mournfulness Doerell and Doring nurture in “Dictaphone II.” The group's mix of wayward piano sprinkles, accordions, electric guitars, and bass clarinets evokes the intrigue and tension of a grainy ‘50s Cold War film, a claim few other 'electronic' acts could legitimately make.

April 2006