Boomkat Product Review:
Over 20 years since it was originally issued by Din, the short-lived but insanely good label run by Basic Channel office manager Sascha Brauer and Torsten Pröfrock aka T++/Dynamo/Resilent/Traktor/Various Artists, 'Atol Scrap' is still one of the most perfect specimins of an era we'd rather forget. Imagine vintage Autechre clatterbeats assembled with a bassy dub techno mentality and daubed with faint, hazed ambient textures = seriously next level, era-defining biz.
It's fair to say that for the most part, IDM hasn't aged well. When it worked, its sounds were absorbed into more forgiving structures (hello trap and grime) and when it didn't, the mess of overly masculine sound design (ie, greyscale) and underwhelming cycling non-melodies irritated more than they impressed, inching closer to history's trashcan with each passing year. Intelligent was a gross overstatement, and if you couldn't dance to it, what exactly was the purpose?
But certain records have retained their power, sounding better now than they did two decades ago. "Atol Scrap" found an audience when it was released in 1999, but somehow seems more relevant now with its confident fusion of faded dub-techno flutter, gut-punching trance arpeggios and "Chiastic Slide"-era percussive burps. At the time the album's closeness to Autechre was a sticking point for some listeners, but now it seems almost inconsequential. Who isn't influenced by Autechre, anyway?
Uwe Zahn's construction is inspired, but unique in its own way. Standout track 'thaem nue' is still an emotional knockout, with wobbly monosynth melodies layered over beats that sound as much like Timbaland as they do the Rochdale duo. Now in 2021, the R&B/IDM connection is understood far more clearly and Zahn's atmospheric dubbed out soundscapes (just check 'scapen te') sound almost in sync with the ambient bass exploration of the West Mineral/Experiences Ltd. set.
If you've never heard 'Atol Scrap', now's your time, freshly remastered by sensitive ears (this ain't an exercise in loudness, we promise), it's never sounded better.