Cristian Vogel – 1Zhuayo

Posted: 10 March 2022 in Albums
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Mille Plateaux – MP40 – 11th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The last time I engaged with the work of Cristian Vogel was when his double-disc compilation, the archly-titled Classics in 2016. This retrospective covered his 90s output, and traced his evolution as an innovator in underground techno and electronica. His catalogue has doubled in size since then, and it’s apparent that Vogel isn’t only prolific, but an artist who doesn’t like to retread old ground, constantly questing and striving to develop and explore new directions. 1Zhuayo explores many new directions, all at once.

Penning notes to accompany the release of this album, Lain Iwakura and Achim Szepanski wrote that ‘The new Cristian Vogel album 1Zhuayo sounds as if non-musicology & ultra-blackness is not an end or a destination to be arrived at, but as if it is the point of departure, much like tomorrow relates to the day after tomorrow. As if we have left the space of certainties and are moving instead into one of manifold possibilities. They are anticipated in the micro-structures of sound, which is the process of playing with and against the software.’

But then I start to get lost when they continue to explain how Vogel ‘creates a rhythmight that is constructed from the anticausality of Rhythm as counter-counted, the tracing of the rhythmicity of Rhythm in the creation-in-Rhythm. Rhythm is foreclosed to hearing. Non-music radicalizes this notion by subtracting hearing from the framework of experimental music, which claims that everything is heard from Rhythm. The material of music is the continious flow itself. Cristian Vogels method for this way of creating sound is called Rhythmics.’

I feel as if I’m wandering through Deleuze and Guatarri’s A Thousand Plateaus while drunk and on drugs. Words lose meaning – as does sound. It’s bewildering, disorientating. 1Zhuayo is, on most levels, a dance album. But it’s not an easy one, and it’s pretty dark and dense in the main.

The album starts as a churning roar, scraping feedback and industrial machinery grinding away like a tumble drier full of broken bricks, before ‘Hyphadelity’ plunges into booming bass groove-orientated dance. But it’s not comfortable or commercial: the vocals are menacing, half-submerged as they are amidst the busy layerings and the surges of extraneous noise. ‘Astrocumbia’ sees things turn nasty: dance music you can’t dance to, a frenzy of distorted beats exploding all over amidst a gruelling churn or super-low, super-hectic bass that pounds at the pit of the stomach and crushes the cranium. ‘Emanations’ slows it down with an almost dubby vibe.

Things unfold differently on ‘S18’. Again, the dance tropes are prominent, but they’re fractured, pulled apart, before a tsunami of solid sound crashes through on ‘1Zhuayo Express’, which swells to immense proportions, like Godzilla rising from the deep, flexing its muscles as a wall of sound, gloopy bass and grating mid-range pulsating in a monstrous behemoth of power electronics.

The Strom Stadt remix of ‘Transferenz’ is a brutal exercise in monster hardfloor techno that makes The Prodigy’s later works sound like bouncy chart pop, while the Disintegration Mix of ‘Angle Phase Life’ is a brutal mesh of noise with mangled beats partially submerged by the successive detonations of low-end. It sounds like an erupting volcano and missiles launching in slow motion. And amidst it all, electronics pop and squelch like fireworks.

‘Cables’ isn’t a cover of the Big Black song: in fact, it’s quite the opposite being stark and minimal, stuttering glitchy, with a crunching bass drum thudding mercilessly throughout, before the last piece, ‘Serpent Acid’, a splattering blast of jamming percussion and nagging, repetitive, cyclical synth motifs.

Less is more, and this is largely minimal, but at the same time, builds up later from unexpected angles to create something different. It leaves you feeling somewhat dazed – in a good way.

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