VA: Tempo Technik Teamwork
Staubgold largely toils out of the limelight, producing with admirable regularity experimental music of the most wide-ranging and accomplished sort. Perhaps its low-key profile is attributable to its lack of label 'stars,' someone comparable to Fennesz and Godspeed You! Black Emperor who function as associative ambassadors for Touch and Constellation. Tempo Technik Teamwork compensates for that lack by bringing the caliber of its catalogue into clearer focus, and with two discs of twenty-six tracks (eight previously unreleased) totaling 110 minutes, there's ample opportunity to do so. Staubgold head Markus Detmer has determinedly pursued broad stylistic horizons throughout the Berlin-based label's existence and that range is fully evidenced by the selections; the collection also includes pieces issued on Quecksilber, a sister-label that focuses on work that's even more experimental.
Staubgold has expanded its sound of late to include pop-oriented material like The Kat Cosm's “My Letter Of Fate I Write For You Tonight,” a lovely ballad showcase for Jana Plewa's lush singing. With its pastoral arrangement of piano, harp-like guitars, marimbas, and strings, World Standard (Sohichiro Suzuki) and Wechsel Garland's (Jörg Follert) gentle “Donde Lion Wine” might be the loveliest two minutes of the year. Folk-flavoured offerings include Sun's melancholic “Help Yourself” (Oren Ambarchi's acoustic strums paired with Chris Townend's wistful sighs) and Rand and Holland's “Run Faye Run” (a haunting blues featuring Brett Thompson's smoky vocal). Originally released on Ritornell and newly reissued by Staubgold, Dean Roberts' “The Face And Detached” (And The Black Moths Play The Grand Cinema) merges glitchy tinklings with Roberts' quivering voice and guitar stabs in disturbing manner.
The label's global leanings are represented by Thilges 3 and Asim al chalabi's “Izdiucz,” a subtle coupling of oud playing and electronics, Klangwart's “I/O (Edit)” which intercuts dense gamelan patterns with vertiginous, industrial noise, and “Be True,” Ras Donovan's Jah celebration backed by Mapstation's minimal electronics—all three, incidentally, showing Staubgold's deft blurring of stylistic boundaries. The jazzier end of the spectrum is less represented, although Kammerflimmer Kollektief's “Vigilia” opens with some loose-limbed, freer playing before settling into a bluesy dirge.
Not surprisingly, the greater share of the collection is devoted to abstract electronic material from the likes of Joseph Suchy, Reuber, Scott Horscroft, Paul Wirkus, and AGF. Faust's Hans-Joachim Irmler provides a peaceful, Cluster-like keyboard interlude, while Michael J Schumacher's piece seems haunted by disembodied voices and electronic ghosts. Ekkehard Ehlers appears alongside Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Fruiscante on “Grisaisse 1,” an interesting if not wholly successful experiment, as Ehlers' blistered backing of electronic whirrs and squiggles undercuts the guitarist's bucolic slide meanderings; Ehlers also adds laptop chatter to Suchy's shifting guitar lines and Franz Hautzinger's trumpet moans in “Soundchambers 1.”
A common downside to most compilations concerns exclusion but, in this case, the issue is editing. Minit opens the collection with an excerpt from its stunning Now Right Here and, while its droning shimmer is still strong enough in its truncated form, it's exceedingly more powerful on the album. There, the group nurtures the track's development and modulates its tension ever so slowly throughout its opening nine minutes until it dramatically shifts character with the entrance of its deep bass motif. The Loop Orchestra similarly suffers in this regard as its drone-like material needs to be heard in its unedited form for the full hypnotic effect.
Peaks? Amidst this embarrassment of riches, “T-Electronique,” Dälek's update of Faust's original Ravvivando track, towers over others. Taken from their Derbe respect, alder collaboration, the German Krautrockers and American hiphoppers (Will Brooks, Alap Momin, Hsi-Chang Linaka) throw down a thunderous, pummeling groove accompanied by great rhymes, turntable madness, and lethal waves of droning, scraping noise—a jaw-dropping moment yet merely one of many. Naturally, some pieces impress more than others but that's to be expected with contents so diverse. The first disc seems to be the stronger showcase as the second's concentration on abstract soundscaping territory slows the pace considerably. Regardless, Tempo Technik Teamwork makes a compelling argument for the breadth and quality of Staubgold's catalogue.