Thomas Hildebrand: I Repeat Myself Often

On his debut EP, Thomas Hildebrand delivers five superior samplings of quintessential Microcosm music on this digital-only (and first in two years) release from the NY label. The producer's style perfectly complements the aesthetic established by the imprint's past releases (Hildebrand's propensity for found sounds and shuffling rhythms two of many key affinities), but it also personalizes the found-sound Microcosm approach with bold flourishes that give Hildebrand's music a highly personalized and eccentric character. In keeping with the label's aesthetic, the NY producer assembled the minimal techno-funk tracks by merging samples of voices, bottles, sidewalks, and drum sticks with natural instrument sounds (piano, bass, guitar). Nevertheless, bass lines are the release's common thread, with each wildly different cut anchored by the instrument's low-end throb.

Directly referencing James Brown in its title, “Cold Sweats” springs to life as an industrially tinged stepper but then broadens out when Hildebrand embellishes the tune's funk-house pulse with the glisten of acoustic guitar shadings and a tasty guitar hook. A minimal bass pulse is the funky engine powering the slinky 4/4 groove, urban field recordings, and chattering sound design in “Berlin Liebt Dich,” while a chugging beat pattern and plaintive piano melodies form the core of “No Room For Words.” During “Bottlerock,” perhaps the EP's strongest cut, a subterranean bass line and shuffling rhythm anchor an upper flotilla of shuddering smears, thumb piano, and laughter fragments in a track that grows progressively more African as it develops. The sum-total of sounds proves arresting in the best sense of the word, and elevates the cut into a heady sphere that's leagues beyond minimal.

Hildebrand's a natural fit for Microcosm as, like label head Ezekiel Honig, Hildebrand sees the NY landscape as a limitless resource of potential musical material, and plunders the physical world in order to create settings that work as satisfyingly in the club as at home. That it at times resembles Honig's own Microcosm material is borne out by the fact that I Repeat Myself Often came together following a lengthy process whereby Hildebrand, in consultation with Honig, amended and refined the five tracks that now constitute the release. All such details aside, let's take a moment to say how good it is to have Microcosm back with us after a two-year absence.

September 2010