Telekaster: The Silent Anagram
Panic Arrest

After issuing two albums on Sub Rosa as Phon°noir, Berlin-based musician Matthias Grübel introduces a debut collection under the Telekaster name, which he recorded solo except for contributions to a couple of tracks from Mandelbrot Set guitarist Keung, violinist Sabine Hanstein, and arranger Mikhail Karikis. Grübel shapes The Silent Anagram's material into eight meditations which are beatless but not static; an organic, instrument-driven flow animates each densely-layered piece, but the flow never feels tied to or constrained by a specific time signature. He builds the tracks into dense arrangements where acoustic and electronic sounds intermingle, and where at times a single instrument or sound briefly extricates itself from the whole before just as quickly disappearing back into it. With the four tracks on each side presented in a continuous, suite-like manner, the album's material is best experienced in the vinyl format.

The aptly-titled “A Shift in Shapes” brings the A-side to life with a percussive phalanx of rattles, clicks, and whirrs that's promptly augmented by a repeating piano figure. The materials draw together to form a wheezing and rumbling mass, with the creak of a violin motif added as sonic spice. A gamelan cloud of bell tones and chimes then threads itself through “We Are All Balloons,” after which a blanket of fuzz and piano chords initiates the see-sawing meditation “Pyramids,” setting the stage for shimmering flourishes and the melancholy sigh of Hanstein's violin part. While that piece is dirge-like in character, “A World Full of Ordinary Things” feels more uplifting, with electric guitar melodies and strums penetrating the haze and bringing with them a hint of exuberance. Side B opens with “All That is Solid Melts Into Noise,” a ponderous and spacey meditation distinguished by glissandi string effects and the expansive sweep of an orchestral arrangement by Karikis (whose ecstatic voice is also heard), followed by “Where Diving Bells Are Ringing,” a tranquil meditation with a heavy guitar emphasis, and “No Moving Parts Contained,” which closes the album in a daze of mallet percussion tinklings, violin sawing, and electric guitar figures. One of the tracks is titled “Your Fireworks Brighten My Sky” and it's an apt sentiment that one could apply to the album as a whole when Telekaster's settings so often blossom into immense, reverberant swirls of electroacoustic design.

September 2009