Mojo (Publisher) (p.95) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "This is beautiful music that appears to breathe independently of its creator."
Recording information: El Raval, Barcelona, Spain; Frankfurter Tor - Block G, Berlin, Germany; Friedrichshain: Karl Marx Allee, Berlin, Germany; Ipperwash Beach, Lambton Shores, Ontario, Canada; Lighthouse Beach, Port Huron, MI; Placa Sant Felip Neri, Barcelona, Spain; Red Light District, Amsterdam City Centre, The Netherla; Singel Canal House, Amsterdam City Centre, The Netherla.
Photographer: Rod Modell.
Throughout his career as Deepchord and as one half of Echospace, Rod Modell has consistently produced wonderfully enveloping, ambient/dub techno. Sommer (German for "summer"), his second album for Glasgow institution Soma, sees him making another fine addition to his discography. Previous album Hash-Bar Loops was more muffled and psychedelic, its dense and sometimes claustrophobic atmosphere masterfully evoking the late-night ambience of an Amsterdam coffee shop. Sommer has a lighter, airier feel, much less bass-heavy, with no real bassline to speak of and most of the action happening in the middle range. Being immersed in the warmth of opener "Glow" is like entering a flotation tank. There's nothing so crass as a melody line; instead, lush pads create clusters of harmonic overtones upon which are laid long, plangent tones and chiming bell-like notes. The warm synth textures and subtle, syncopated ethnic percussion evoke the sun-dappled ocean. Modell is an expert sound designer; much of the work he does for each album involves making hundreds of hours of field recordings, which he cleverly works into the music so subtly that in the main it is impossible to guess their origins and they simply become part of the overall texture. There's a background noise that could be seagulls and, almost all the way through the album, a soft but insistent rustling or crackling that could be waves crashing faintly on a beach or the wind blowing raindrops against the window. The only thing that distinguishes this from true ambient music is the way everything is wrapped around the insistent 4/4 kick drum that pulses throughout the record. Most of the album sounds like one long track that evolves slowly over time, as particular elements recur from song to song. It's also deceptively complex; the more you listen, the more you realize how busy it is. The album picks up and becomes somewhat more "dancey" as it goes on -- the kicks are doubled and the syncopated percussion becomes more insistent and prominent in the mix -- but there are no club bangers here; this is music to drift away to. It's nigh-on impossible to pick stand-out tracks from an album like this, which is meant to be experienced in its entirety, and it's equally difficult to talk about it in musicological terms -- this is music that is all about the emotional response. ~ John D. Buchanan