Fenin :: Been Through (Shitkatapult)

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(09.07.08) Lars Fenin, for the benefit of Berlin Beginners, is part of the Meteosound clan, a community of sometime collaborators and kindred spirits originally grouped under Daniel Meteo. Loosely affiliated with the likes of Pole and Anders Ilar among others, Fenin has since the early 00s been rummaging in the dub drawers of Berlin’s bureau in search of techno-trimmed threads, fashioning a less obvious crossover of dub methodology and post-techno paradigm – one open to seasonings and styles from outside the dub-techno box.

In fact Fenin’s 2005 debut, Grounded, was noteworthy for being a Berliner album that added techno to dub and came out with something that shucked the label ‘dub-techno.’ Been Through follows this up with further dub-premised hybridising, and, again, avoids jumping on the bandwagon at the rear of the vanguard of new Berlin-led Dub-technoicians tapping old Basic Channel templates (cf. Quantec, et al.). Fenin prefers to traffic more in tweaking conventional song structures with retro tech-textures and offbeat beats, here differently dressed with voicings by Ghanaian-born MC, Gorbi. Fenin’s alliance with Gorbi suggests a parallel with von Oswald and Ernestus’s other project, Rhythm and Sound, specifically their hook-up with Tikiman, or their collaborations in the See Mi Yah series. This association with the singer/toaster/MC tradition is driven by archaeology and by applied engineeering – a will-to-connect to Dub’s Kingstonian soundsystem source combining with Nordic tech’s prescription for some Afro- root to put flesh to metal and breathe soul into the machine.

As Been Through progresses, for all its tele-King Tubby and tech-gnomist leanings, it sometimes feels like a New Media tour through Germany’s electronic and post-rock past. Teutonic references abound, Fenin’s latest hybrid model seeming to have been through (ha!) the pop-electronica-indie suburbs, a route attempted – only partially successfully – by fellow-Shikatapultist, Apparat, on his last album, Walls, and an area in part grounded (ha ha!) in the ’90s post-rock of City Slang, and To Rococo Rot in particular. Looking further back, more than a trace of Can’s proto-kosmik motorik is visible channeled through this lens, albeit obscured by remote Jamaican clouds; notable exhibit being “Colourfields,” which has Fenin lifting a few Ash Ra guitar lines from the Göttsching Manual to embellish the bubbling synth sequences, synco-bass and neo-Neu! pulse over which Gorbi’s DIY Tiki-mania creeps. It’s also perceptible through the spliff-smoke and sub-2step rhythms of “A Try;” and in the post-electro-breakbeat of “Breakin,” with its viscid haze of sci-fi squelch and delay play. Influence spotting aside, the sightseeing tour finds perhaps its most arresting vista on the mood-altering, “I Guess,” on which what could be a West African balinophone (one freed from Laswell’s Possession: African Dub?) gets smeared over some slo-mo breakage treatment, in a woozy half-trance of virtual voodoo vibes. Notwithstanding the faint queasiness that vocalophobic electronophiles tend to experience on encounter with a series of singings, Been Through is an electronica album which repays whatever adjustments might need to be made through internal EQ-ing with the diversion offered by its instrumental fertility and genre-bending blending.

Been Through is out now on Shitkatapult. [Purchase]

  • Shitkatapult
  • Fenin
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