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Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer – Re: ECM review

Throughout high school and college, I developed the habit of having to study and do homework with some variation of music or television playing in the background. What may have served as an unproductive distraction to other students, actually assisted me in completing my work successfully, placing me in the top percentile among my fellow classmates. Yet, after two years of acquiring my undergraduate degree, I believe that if Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer created their classical, instrumental smorgasbord of sounds circa 2008, I would have used their latest album as my inattentive, background noise, and thus graduated as the eclectic valedictorian.

As pioneers to the techno movement, Berlin-based DJs and composers, Villalobos and Loderbauer, return to the industry with their newest contribution to contemporary electronica, “Re: ECM.” The two-disc compilation features original recordings released by Alexander Knaifel, Louis Sclavis, John Abercrombie, and others, under the record label, ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music), which the two “looped, sampled, remixed, and reworked,” according to the label website. There honestly is not much to say about each individual track since the theme surrounding the entire work is consistent in being comprised of “classical composition and improvisation meets techno and electronics.” The opening track of “Re:ECM”, “Reblop”, begins with eight minutes and twenty seconds of what seems to be a few simple strokes of a piano and the sounds of a synthesizer, and then the whimsical arrival of a harp-like instrument nearly halfway through. This sets the tone for the remainder of the album and leaves the listener with the impression that Villalobos and Loderbauer participated in an experimentation of sounds, which they actually did, resulting in this celestial experience. To me, “Re:ECM” can perfectly be described as “jazz on acid,” a trippy mixture of jazz and pulsating, erratic arrangements and beats. Yet, the execution of the instrumentation presents a certain vibe throughout its entirety, such as on “Resvete”, which conveys an eerie atmosphere with the opera-like, high-pitched voice of a woman engulfed in animalistic groans in the background. As scary, or weird, as that may sound, the duo’s random manipulation of sounds and instruments is quite genius and despite the arbitrariness that is quite evident, the placement of each loop, sample, and remix portrays an underlying story that could be told.

The “background noise” that was compiled by Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer on “Re:ECM” serves as a progressive spin on contemporary electronica, thus introducing an unconventional genre of techno for listeners everywhere.

By Kerianne Strachan

I am 16 bars away from a dope hook.

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