Restless Shapes


This is the debut release from Gajek for Monkeytown. After Chris Clark had passed some of Gajek's sheer endless output over to Modeselektor, quite a few listening sessions followed. Ranging from post-rock-y electronica to complex and moody renderings of intricate, introverted beat structures to mutant dance music, a whole audioscape had to be discovered. There were songs and tracks and experiments there, morphed vocals and reverberated non-human instruments, complex percussion patterns and sweet atmospheres, but in all these different paths and moods, a penchant for working with a leitmotif could be traced. As an introduction to expose his particular working method, a concept mini-album was carefully crafted. Filled with 21 short tracks circling around three main motifs, this record lays bare one of Monkeytown's new artist's main strengths. Working with variations of rhythmic elements, it seems like the three parts of this album tell very short but intricately-entwined stories equal to the miniature worlds contained in snow globes. They contain references to their larger musical counterparts in Gajek's other works, but shaken and stirred and sometimes snowed under. One is quickly drawn into this music, challenged to find the thread and follow it into its different outfits and scenarios. The first complex entitled "Curved Engines" evolves around a major scale played over two octaves with the exclusion of a few notes. Its friendly and simple melody is examined in every possible direction, almost like a classical minimalist piano piece. The second one "Restless Water Shapes" explores a repetitive rhythmic pattern, which evolves over the course of its eight parts, sometimes reminiscent of early Autechre, but combined with a more jazz-based approach. On its course, the pattern morphs from being played on actual percussions, to drone-y pads and sirens synthesized from vocals until it breaks into actual composed pieces on track 9, 12 and 14. Here, various of the afore-heard elements come together to form moments of extreme beauty and calmness while challenging the listener to come closer, hear more, better, finer. Complex 3 "Moving Glasses" starts like an overture to a digital "Zarathustra." Synthesized arpeggios sounding like a muted bamboo-harpsichord is interrupted by a syncopated beat swinging in an upside-down gesture like an exclamation mark. Some of the elements of the former complexes appear, culminating in a more orchestrated apparel. Where the other parts explore a musical structure, this one is devoted to (a) form. This form could be called "electronic dance music," if this expression wasn't already taken for the cheap mainstream rendering of autotuned four-to-the-floor. "Moving Glasses" offers the most apparent references to club-music in its various forms, ranging from hip-hop to techno but also finding its way back to ambient and electronica. You can consume this album without paying attention to the "concept" part of it, no worries, it is a masterfully-crafted piece of intelligent electronica that is as pleasant to listen to as it is thought-though.