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Visions of Blah

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Album Review

As much as Fehlmann's time-spanning reputation precedes him — as an original post-punker who has collaborated with several Detroit techno luminaries and the Orb — Visions of Blah still comes as a dazzling surprise. Compiling Fehlmann's pair of 2002 12" releases for Kompakt and adding an additional five productions, the album flitters to and fro with slight stylistic shifts, dividing time between ambient and dancefloor material. The hypnotic effects of the opening three tracks — "Streets of Blah," "Superbock," and "Rotenfaden" — are all but overwhelming with swinging, quasi-skanking rhythm patterns and basslines that seem simultaneously viscous and transient, like dubbed-up recastings of the Modernist's prickly fissures. "Du Fehlst Mir" follows the opening trio with a drastic transfer into blissful ambient techno — those glistening flourishes! — and ranks with the best of Kompakt's Pop Ambient series. The gradual descent back into the beat-heavy begins with "Rainbow Over Stadtautobahn," a track that remains atmospheric but resembles a spacy take on frictional shuffle-tech with rocking effects (as in the movement of a chair, not a scorching guitar riff) and percussion that ricochets from left to right and right to left. The truly astonishing point is that the album's best treats don't arrive until after that. "Making It Whistle" utilizes a similar dub-techno template as the opening three, but adds further dimensions with livelier tweaks and reverberations. Then there's the clanking chug of "Seerosengiessen," the metallic eroticism of "Gratis" (this could pass as a skanking remix of Maurizio's "M4"), and the beatless, vaporous blasts of "Decke." This doesn't merely qualify as one of Kompakt's best single-artist albums; it is the label's best single-artist album. Not bad for a producer who has nothing to prove. [The vinyl edition consists only of the five non-12" tracks and the album mix of "Making It Whistle."]


Born: 1957 in Zurich, Switzerland

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An important man in the German electronic scene, Zurich-born musician and producer Thomas Fehlmann brought several diverse acts to Germany to record and collaborate. Beginning in the early '80s, his group Palais Schaumburg fused dance rhythms to the experimentalist flair of '70s German rock. A Detroit-Berlin cultural exchange through the Tresor label originally brought Underground Resistance to Germany, and Fehlmann did his part by recording separately with Blake Baxter, Eddie Flashin' Fowlkes, and...
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Visions of Blah, Thomas Fehlmann
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