Liner Note Author: Dirk Dresselhaus.
Recording information: Constructionsite Studios, Berlin (2001-2009).
During the six years that passed between Schneider TM's third album, Skoda Mluvit, and its follow-up, Construction Sounds, Dirk Dresselhaus concentrated on other projects, including soundtrack work and noise projects. Those extracurricular activities, along with the frequent renovation projects surrounding his East Berlin apartment, provide the backbone of Construction Sounds, a suite of tracks built from field recordings of the construction sites around his home. These pieces are a far cry from Dresselhaus' previous Schneider TM work, which was as indebted to contemporaries like Mouse on Mars as it was prescient of the sound of Morr Music's playful electronic pop throughout the 2000s. While electronic artists using found sounds as sample fodder is nothing new -- nor is finding inspiration in a building site's mix of chaos and repetition -- Dresselhaus finds his own niche. Construction Sounds often feels like a soundtrack in its subtlety, complexity, and cohesion, in large part because Dresselhaus avoids as many preconceptions about this kind of project as he can. He doesn't chop up his samples in typical ways -- there are no jackhammer beats here, and he thankfully avoids making any sonic puns about "industrial" music -- which makes the results much less predictable and more satisfying. Despite being awash in the noise of progress for years, Dresselhaus keeps Construction Sounds on the subtle side, only turning to the pounding, squealing reality of building something for brief interludes like "Container Redux." The album's long pieces are where Dresselhaus' approach really shines, particularly on the 13-minute title track, which is based on serenely grinding drones, clanking metallic sounds, and a couple of particularly satisfying booms that give the track a delicate structure like the bare iron skeleton of a building. This track and the evocatively named "Grinder in the Sky" have a hypnotic harmony to them that suggests all the machines are working in perfect order to create the world's most beautiful building, while "Container"'s ghostly screeches and "Bimanual Complexity"'s throbbing electronic pulses hint at a more ominous side to the proceedings. Dresselhaus stated that the constant noise around his apartment nearly caused him to have a breakdown, but by and large Construction Sounds is a restful and refreshing listen -- and one that reflects how far his music has come during the years since he last used the Schneider TM moniker. ~ Heather Phares