The Steam Age
Sølyst heralds a new era of digital steam power with The Steam Age, turning his attentions to mechanical aesthetics beyond the ubiquitous binary code. For his third album, Düsseldorf-based Kreidler drummer Thomas Klein, turned to an abandoned piano as a sound source. Tapping, scratching, scraping, plucking; working with the wooden body and steel strings led to the building blocks of a broad sonic spectrum, which Klein then brushed against the grain with his sampler. He then invited these alienated patterns and sequences to dance to the typical Sølyst percussion groove, forming a hypnotically driving machine-funk. Klein also expanded his drum set; a homemade, electronically manipulated table percussion setup, consisting of utilitarian objects such as a tin can or a wooden board, opened the sonic palette to previously unheard, weightless grooves. This percussive spectrum has been tested and proven live, and spreads a rhythmic gravity that remains accessible despite its experimental basis. Sølyst is ultimately a project that revolves around a hypnotic rhythmic element, and The Steam Age creates this hypnosis with an intoxicatingly atmospheric quality. The music is interspersed with the marks of time -- dust, patina, rust -- from the world of machines and the mechanical interplay of gears and pistons. Noise, heat, and vapor add to this associative field of inspiration. The Steam Age is an attempt to lend a voice to friction-generating mechanics, motors, and movements that audibly assert themselves against opposing forces and sometimes grind to a stutter. The titles of the tracks -- "Steamfield" and "Atomium," for example -- refer to the overarching concept. With titles like "Nostalghia," they even go so far as to reference cinema, alluding in this case to Andrei Tarkovsky's 1983 work of the same name and taking the chain of associations beyond the music. The mysterious rumbling within, beneath, and above the 11 pieces creates an additional mysterious motoric aura. Yet it also feels familiar, revealing emotional depths that invite the listener to surrender to trust. This music is devoted to a pre-digital machine aesthetic that does not refrain from occasionally toying ironically with the evocation of the analog and handmade. The dark space between the sounds leaves room for anyone to add their own imagination and give in to the endless breath of the machines.