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Cinemascope

Monolake

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Album Review

On Cinemascope, Monolake (aka Robert Henke) blends the stark sounds of the street with beat-conscious elements, creating a reserved late-night brew of intense minimalism. Short bursts of light break through the dark cracks that underscore the majority of Cinemascope, allowing the largely clipped and clicky beats to comprise the framework of the record. Not unlike Richie Hawtin's later work, Henke utilizes subtractive theory to pull apart regular dancefloor structures into roomy, spacious reconstructions that echo endlessly, reminiscent of the introspective period of early-'90s Detroit techno. Perhaps the perfect record for driving around the city at night, Cinemascope takes in the wonder of architecture, construction, and how people tend to relate to those concepts. Certainly, Henke seems somewhat more closely aligned with his German, minimal-tech colleagues, but he no doubt is in safe territory with Detroit's innovators of the genre. His sometimes spooky and skittery layers of rhythm imitate the clunking and perfect cadence of factory machines in their restless stages. Little melody creeps in, but there's still something pleasant about the work. Perhaps this pleasantness is found in the music's general relaxedness. Nothing ever bubbles over with excitement, but ebbs and flows are still quite visible. And even still, Henke keeps the dancefloor in mind, especially on the track "Remoteable," which is dark and nondescript, held up with constrictive beats and subtle layers of rhythm.

Biography

Formed: 1995 in Berlin, Germany

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Monolake were among the most acclaimed and enduring artists to arise from the Berlin-based Basic Channel/Chain Reaction label group, run by Moritz "Maurizio" von Oswald and home to such champions of minimalist dub-techno austerity as Vainqueur, Substance, and Porter Ricks. Monolake initially consisted of Robert Henke and Gerhard Behles, but Behles departed during the early 2000s to run Ableton, the music software company that both producers established in 1999. For a stretch, Henke was Monolake's...
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