Art & Music: Rashad Becker debut album for PAN
Almost anyone who collects serious electronic music on vinyl likely came by the name of Rashad Becker a couple of times. That's because he is a star-engineer of cult Dubplates & Mastering studio in Berlin and a successor in trade to Robert Henke, the co-creator of Ableton software also known as mastermind behind Monolake project.
Having been working with the best that electronic and experimental music has to offer since around 1997, Becker certainly can be considered the most acclaimed mastering artist in the world. His touch has supposedly improved on the classic records by such diverse musicians and producers as Kevin Drumm, Shackleton, KTL, RIcardo Villalobos, Cindytalk, Mika Vainio, Robert Turman, Stellar OM Source, previously mentioned Monolake and many more.
For his long-in-the-works debut Becker have chosen to release on currently in-vogue PAN, experimental label with which he has a long-standing and fruitful collaboration record. PAN is run from Berlin by ridiculously talented designer, curator and sometimes musician Bill Kouligas who has a knack for producers favouring uncompromising investigation in noise, electroacoustic and other unclassifiable sound-practices. Recently label had an unexpected run of success among a wider audience with dance-music inspired records by Lee Gamble, Heatsick and NHK' Koyxen.
Becker's "Traditional Music Of Notional Species Vol.1" firmly lands in former, experimental category. Texturally it has a slight resemblance to PAN's own Ben Vida and his "Esstends-Esstends-Esstends", that was bathed in glassy piercing sonorities and rubbery stuttering squavers. On the concept level it curiously finds more ideological kinship with much older, academic school of electronic music than with anything contemporary.
Although it is not readily discernible if "Traditional Music..." contains any field-recording, the record that often comes to mind while listening is recently re-released magnum-opus of musique concrète originator Pierre Schaeffer "Le Trierdre Fertile". Even closer still is the latest Recollection GRM commemoration of "De Natura Sonorum" by Bernard Parmegiani. Not by accident, both releases are cut for vinyl by Rashad.
It is likely that many people will find it all slightly forbidding. But for a "difficult" record "Traditional Music..." remains strangely inviting and might be enjoyed solely for creating vivid and alien sound-world. Becker's first foray into original production is so unlike anything that's been released at this moment that it commands attention just for courage to venture outside of the familiar conventions of experimental music.