"This album set me free."
(Anthony Rother on Netzwerk der Zukunft)
Cold. Precise. Uncompromising. If you feel that the current musical landscape is lacking these qualities, then Netzwerk der Zukunft will make you sit up and take notice. Because, in the past four years since his last album, Anthony Rother has been doing a lot of thinking. About himself, the world he lives in and, of course, his music. A journey into his soul, which eventually ends at his roots, his earliest inspiration: Elektro. Now, with Netzwerk der Zukunft, Anthony Rother is redefining the Elektro sound of his generation once again.
"The excitement that I can feel in myself and my music right now... Honestly, I haven't had this much energy and optimism since Hacker, or maybe even Simulationszeitalter," says Rother, surrounded by analogue equipment in his PSI Studio in Offenbach. There, wholly free of expectations and the paralysing diktat of the dance floor, he has recorded an album over the past year which, in its harsh intensity, he might never have thought himself capable of creating any longer: bleakly hissing machine music, like the last desperate call of humanity from a digital dystopian future.
What does this call sound like? Ich Bin Ewig, the impressive first track on Netzwerk der Zukunft, already gives us an idea. After just a few seconds, it transports the listener to an icy parallel world of electro machine hiss and glimmering black textures, which radiate a threat that is barely tangible but always there, under the surface. In this world, heavy sub-bass still hums in your gut long after your ears can no longer hear it, and robot voices inform the humans of the superiority of machines. The beats also make an impression: at times, they sound as if Rother recorded them inside a furnace slowly gone out of control. "I like to work with the proper hardware. If you delve into the individual sound parameters long enough, you can create a fantastic sound," says Rother, explaining the often astonishing vividness of his tracks.
Yet while the album, despite all its complexity, really picks up pace with the tracks Schöpfer, Medium and Netzwerk and comes within striking distance of club music, pieces like the purely instrumental Zukunft recall Rother's aspiration for Netzwerk der Zukunft: "I want to make music for people who still really listen to music, rather than just using individual tracks." If the album's mood has been sombre until now, then Zukunft does its best to intensify this sensation. It is a harsh soundscape, which, with its majestic gravity, seems perfectly capable of bringing the room temperature down a few degrees closer to freezing.
In the next track, Technokultur, Anthony Rother explicitly pays homage, not only lyrically, to the pioneers of Elektro, who have famously always held a particular fascination for the Offenbach-based artist. "I worked on the vocal for Technokultur for a long time. The melody and the sound... Finally, I programmed my own vocal effect to adapt my voice to the timbre the track had in my imagination," says Anthony Rother, recalling many a sleepless night in his studio.
Netzwerk der Zukunft briefly pauses for breath with Der Widerstand, which is almost a spoken-word performance, before the darkness we have come to know returns to the album with Automat and Momentum. Only with the final track, In Digital Dominus, does a faint glimmer of light appear at the end of the Elektro tunnel. The sonic permafrost slowly begins
to thaw, and suddenly, amidst all the coldness of machines, there is suddenly room for a little (human?) warmth. And with that, Netzwerk der Zukunft draws to a close.
released April 29, 2014
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