Instead this quartet is introspective and pondering, thoughtful and reflective; a slight glance back to the “Soundtrack of Space” before a firm gaze into an all too human future.
Few people were as excited as myself when B12 announced their return to music some six years ago. They had always been one of my favorite techno acts and it was a personal coup to interview them. But after that initial burst of enthusiasm the zeal of the faithful towards these godfathers seemed to wane. Following a somewhat frigid reception to newer releases the Archive series was welcomed like a returning child. But after the Archive series the transmissions again ceased; until recently.
Just before the end of 2015 B12, Steven Rutter taking the helm alone, resurfaced with Orbiting Souls, a record that has been well received. It’s with this hope of rekindled prowess that the latest offering arrives; Transient Life.
“Soar and Glide” is a thick and bass filled track. Pings and plinks are echoed into a void, creating a hollow and quite lonely sound. And this solitary aspect, the EP being by Rutter by himself, is filtered throughout the entire outing. Warmer moments from the past are sheathed with elegiac notes and cooler shades. This is plain to hear in the lengthy breaks and sombre shifts of both “Brownian Motion” and “Forced Restart.” The crisp percussion and upbeat tempo that characterized much of B12’s seminal output has been sidelined. It is the melodies, the harmonies and the depth of sound which are the focus. A sense of the foreboding, a looming presence is central to the very end. “Symbiotic Form” toes the line between, as the artist says, “sadness and joy.” Keys arc into the abyss, some ricocheting back invitingly as others growl into the darkness.
Interestingly the musician offers words to describe his musical offerings on the press release. They’re even more interesting to read when you take into consideration that his recent Orbiting Souls EP was written after the death of a friend. Words and phrases like “life,” “death,” “limbo,” “earthbound,” “particles,” “monsters” and “universe” might give insight into the what of the B12 is attempting with these works. There’s a heaviness to them, a weight bordering sorrow without ever fully slipping in. These aren’t of the lilting flights, skittering scapes or playful interludes of Electro-Soma and Time Tourist. Instead this quartet is introspective and pondering, thoughtful and reflective; a slight glance back to the “Soundtrack of Space” before a firm gaze into an all too human future.