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(Thrill Jockey)

This is the first solo recording by Stefan Nemeth, the keyboardist for the Austrian instrumental trio Radian. Radian is noted for creating “synthetic” music using bass guitar, drums and analog synthesizers. In this respect, they are similar to Seefeel, who earned notoriety for being indistinguishable from the Warp records roster armed only with analog gear. Radian is, however, considerably darker and more abstract than Seefeel and may be best qualified as minimalist electronica.

As the title connotes, this is a collection of compositions written to accompany film. Each track elicits a strong visual element. In soundtrack music, storytelling is vital but it must be augmented by ambiguity. The mind’s eye needs some intrigue to keep the embers of imagination burning. Nemeth uses the rhythm to tell the story. Each one is intricately ornamented and unique. Perhaps most importantly, each piece is given room to breathe which helps differentiate from other recordings in the genre.

The opening track, "Via L4-Norte," is a fine example. It opens with the sound of traffic. A strangely primal, stop-start beat joins in, meted out on snare and tom-tom. Eventually, solitary notes are struck on the guitar, chiming, modulated. As the song continues, the beat is augmented by the circuitous abrasions of a washboard in the low frequencies — barely perceptible. And then it fades out.

The subsequent track, "Field," sounds like an underwater march. The snaps and crackles of static juxtapose against an undulating wash of synthesizers. Scatter-shot anvil pings and bell tree accompany a slow, steady increase in intensity. The guitar enters haphazardly striking heavily distorted chords, held out, and then the slow dissolve returning to the sea.

Track four, "Luukkaankangas," evokes memories of the ambient passages in Brian Eno’s classic Another Green World.

Given the disparity in the films that these pieces were scored for, this holds together very well. If you enjoy soundtrack music, electronic minimalism such as Murcof, or just a good trip with the headphones on, Film is well worth the effort.

-— Jesse Srogoncik, February 5th, 2008

Radian — Radian (Rhiz, 1998)
Radian — Tg11 (Mego, 2000)
Radian — Rec.Extern (Thrill Jockey, 2002)
Radian — Juxtaposition (Thrill Jockey, 2004)
Nemeth — Film (Thrill Jockey, 2008)


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