Signaldrift: Set Design
Consumers Research & Development

Set Design finds Franz Buchholtz concocting ten breezy tracks in a follow-up to Girl, his earlier 2005 release on Audraglint. The new collection alternates four fully-developed compositions and six interludes, with the former not surprisingly registering more strongly. “…And Yet” initiates the album serenely with placid cascades of electric piano, until “Yellow Leaves” animates the mood with staccato pulses of typewriter clicks and reverberant thwacks. The piece gradually deepens with Buchholtz adding layer upon layer of echoing guitars, dubby voices, and thrumming percussion, the song never losing its dreamy character despite building forcefully. While the bucolic “De De” fashions an enchanting groove of buoyant pulses and washes, it's bettered by the vibrant trance epic “Dutch Assassin” where an hypnotic flute melody loops over New Order bass lines and an infectiously percolating house pulse.

Typical for the genre, the shorter pieces are meditative, hazy, and celestial, reflective in mood and filled with distinctive touches like backward guitar effects and heavenly harp swirls. A nostalgic, Boards of Canada feel colours “Children of the 70's” with faint flute tones and hazy keyboard musings couched in crusty vinyl crackle. Press material describes Set Design as an album for “those post-club, late-night drives,” and it's a succinct and accurate characterization. Despite its uptempo moments, the mood is restrained and perhaps a bit too well-behaved: every time a longer dance track ups the intensity, an interlude follows to pull it back down to a becalmed level. The penultimate arrival, then, of “128” is especially welcome as its thirteen-minute duration provides ample opportunity for heat to develop—exactly what happens when Brian Foote's guitars and Buchholtz's electronics merge into propulsive streams of panoramic sweep.

November 2005