Oliver Hacke: Subject Carrier

That Oliver Hacke is a Background Records luminary shouldn't surprise, as the remarkably high quality of Subject Carrier's nine (untitled) tracks matches the calibre of the superb releases on Andy Vaz's Düsseldorf-based imprint. And, much like the meticulously crafted Background Records material, it's rather ludicrous to label Hacke's music minimal, so rich is its instrumental detail. Certainly there is a repetitive dimension to it—track two's shimmying base loops throughout, for example, and the machine rhythms in track four coil hypnotically—but it would be unreasonable to expect anything else given its status as 'dance' music. While a sonic sheen unifies the album, Hacke flirts with different styles throughout, and even sneaks in some skipping schaffel on track four. In the opening piece, a nimble microhouse rhythm glides merrily along until sideswiped by grimy distorted noises; groaning sounds similarly dominate track three's grimy techno. Percussive plink-plonks give track six, on the other hand, a tribal feel, although offset by ethereal star bursts.

Moments of masterful subtlety and nuance appear. Split into thirds, track five opens beautifully with a gentle pulse of soft glimmers and meandering organ lines and then proceeds to intensify gradually, with faint bass lines appearing at the two-minute mark. Increasing the tension further, beats finally appear after four minutes yet Hacke treats them with exquisite restraint, and thereby maintains the gracefulness of the piece until its conclusion. In track seven, the album's arguable peak, he overlays cloud-like swathes of hiss and a wavering two-chord theme with fleet bass lines and a swinging microhouse groove, and coyly interjects a recurring hiccup motif throughout. It's the kind of album that can float past unimposingly if relegated to the background but listen closely and its rich detail comes forth. In short, an album to savour.

November 2004