2015 Top 10s & 20s
Roomful Of Teeth

David Arend
Artificial Intelligence
Nimrod Borenstein
Randal Collier-Ford
Julien Demoulin
Denki Udon
R. Nathaniel Dett
Dwiki Dharmawan
Yair Etziony
Marina Fages
Francesco Di Fiore
Flowers for Bodysnatchers
From the Mouth of the Sun
Markus Guentner
Momenta Quartet
Music Komite
North Atlantic Explorers
Prequel Tapes
Alessandro Stella
Swarm Intelligence
Robert Scott Thompson
Trigg & Gusset
Aino Tytti
Andy Vaz
We Mythical Kings
Sebastian Zangar

Compilations / Mixes / Remixes / Reissues
Dub Phizix
Stacey Pullen
A Simple Procedure
Tour De Traum X

EPs / Cassettes / DVDs / Mini-Albums / Singles
Big Phone
Great Panoptique Winter
Mute Forest
Thee Koukouvaya
Joshua Van Tassel

Prequel Tapes: Inner Systems

Blurry radio transmissions emanate from some industrial bunker; pulsating sequencer patterns and mutant techno, stripped bare of beats, ripple through granular, sheet-metal haze—these are but a few of the ethereal sounds flickering forth from Prequel Tapes' debut full-length. In accompanying text, the album's creator, Marco Freivogel, waxes nostalgic about youthful days listening to The Cure, KLF, and Future Sound of London and his stumbling first attempts at music production using a Casio FZ-1 sampler, Korg MS-10, and drum machine. With time and maturity comes a growing sophistication yet also a concomitant distancing from innocent origins, and it's the latter that drives Prequel Tapes to reclaim that past—or at least try to—by returning to analog gear, vintage synthesizers, and long-retired formats. Drawing upon decades of exposure to rave culture, industrial music, and other electronic mutations, Inner Systems can be heard as one person's life story distilled into audio form.

The project name, by the way, wasn't arbitrarily chosen: the material includes sounds lifted from DAT tapes of recordings made between 1989 and 1991, and the project in general plays like a glossolalic to-and-fro between the past and present. While there's not a strong stylistic similarity between Prequel Tapes and Kraftwerk, the former does share with the latter a nostalgic affection for earlier times now only accessible through memory, and Inner Systems also sometimes suggests what the modern-day spawn of Radioactivity's experimental vignettes would sound like transported to the present age and expanded upon.

Though the album's designed to be regarded as a total statement, there are differences between the eight tracks: “Under Your Skin” grinds with industrial purpose, its nightmarish sound design intermittently punctuated by war zone blasts and strangulated churning, whereas the ghost of ‘80s techno shadows “When We Fall Into the Light,” even if the synthesizer-heavy material does often feel on the verge of splintering into rubble. It's hardly the only one that does so, but in its relentless compulsion to shape-shift and mutate it's perhaps the album track that best captures the project's tone. In expressing a wistful affection for the past, projects of Freivogel's kind often, if only implicitly, cast a negative, even hopeless eye on the present and future. Inner Systems refreshingly does otherwise in the way it occasionally infuses its material with uplift. That's nowhere more audible than in the title track, which pulsates with a dynamic, clangorous energy that encourages rave-like abandon and begins to feel like a kind of controlled ecstasy.

December 2015