Feed The Tape
Düsseldorf-based experimental-electronic composer Orson Hentschel openly acknowledges the influence of classical minimalism and Steve Reich in particular on his debut album Feed The Tape. Yet while that might be so—and the pronounced use of pulsation and phase-shifting on the album clearly suggests that it is—Hentschel is no Reich clone. His ideas are adopted as a starting point for Hentschel's own conceptions, and more than anything else it's the loop that acts as the origin from which a given piece develops. Working liberally with samples lifted from soundtracks and sound libraries and abetted by the live drumming of Lukas Baumgart, Hentschel works hard at establishing his own sound, even if its classical minimalism roots are audible.
In keeping with its title, “16 mm” lunges into action with a churning rhythm, whose gallop sounds as if it might have been sourced from a movie projector, but though the sound is arresting, Hentschel doesn't stop there. Bass pulses and myriad other textures are progressively folded in, resulting in a shape-shifting set-piece whose restlessly flickering structures mutate far more rapidly than the classical minimalism norm. It's a dizzying ride that packs a remarkable amount of stimulation into its eight-minute frame.
The Reich connection most overtly surfaces when the opening moments of “Feed the Tape” explicitly nod in the direction of Music For 18 Musicians, but characteristic of Hentschel's approach, the piece quickly morphs from this intro into a primal, percussion-heavy episode that's much less related. In similar manner, female vocalizations lend “Florence” a Tehillim-like quality, but here too he strikes out on his own by building a complex polyphonic tapestry from vocal and instrumental motifs.A key detail that helps distance Feed The Tape from other recordings of its genre type is Baumgart's playing. His energized attack adds both muscle and a live dimension whenever it appears (the thunderous “Noise of the Light” and relentlessly hammering “What's Going On” good examples), and the recording benefits significantly from his presence. In general, Hentschel's approach serves as an encouraging model for young composers who want to establish their own voices without disavowing the legacies of their forebears, especially when Feed The Tape shows that a composer can draw upon signature aspects of Reich's early sound and generate something new from it.