Cristian Vogel: The NeverEngine

That Cristian Vogel's The NeverEngine appears on Tresor is the first good sign, and the material largely makes good on that promise. In his first showing on the Berlin label since 2003's Dungeon Master and his third since the 1995 debut Absolute Time, the Chile-born and Barcelona-based producer digs deep into straight-up techno without getting waylaid by over-indulgent experimentalism (the closing minutes of “SKX engineUnderwraps” an exception). Apparently there's a considerable conceptual underpinning to the new work, specifically ideas about the “orgonic universal life force” as hypothesized by Wilhelm Reich (here's a mercifully short sampling of Vogel's own description: “The NeverEngine - a collection of recordings synthesized using bespoke sequencing algorithms designed to interpolate between data-states, and so slide beats into bleeps and tones into drones”), but thankfully one can remain blissfully ignorant of such goings-on and experience the album on sonic grounds only (don't be scared off either by annoyingly abstruse titles such as “BOPX_BOCX (variant1)” and “PROTOCHI rearMount”).

Propulsion's the word of the day, with Vogel's tracks pounding their way forward with the relentless precision of army soldiers marching in formation. The album's largely dedicated to squiggly space-age bangers powered by hammering techno thrust and spiked with swizzling woops, bloops, and bleeps, and, if anything, the material's reminiscent of Vogel's 1996 Tresor release All Music Has Come To An End which features a similar blend of woozy synthetics and pounding pulses. Perhaps the set's most scenic ride is “SAGA,” ten minutes of sci-fi swoops, whirring noises, and jacking bass rumble. If there's a downside, it's that The NeverEngine is first and foremost a groove album and consequently Vogel's beat-based exercises are, put politely, melodically lean. In truth, my favourite Vogel album remains 1996's Mille Plateaux release Specific Momentific whose stylistic range and imagination makes The NeverEngine pale by comparison.

August 2008