Boomkat Product Review:
Timely 25th anniversary reissue of General Magic's 1997 classic - an early exploration of digital cut-up glitch sounds made from scratching CD-Rs, purposely crashing laptops, and "cheerfully massaging sound files". Falls somewhere between cavernous rhythmic industrial scraping (think Muslimgauze or early Pita), and the mind-expanding dub-flecked illbient recordings of DJ Olive or DJ Spooky - it even pre-empted Prefuse 73 and Kaman Leung's sparse rewired hip-hop. V ahead of its time.
Alongside the sorely missed Peter Rehberg, Ramon Bauer and Andi Pieper were responsible for pioneering the classic Mego sound on 1995's now-legendary "Fridge Trax" 12". The label quickly went on to release genre-shifting records from Fennesz, Farmers Manual, and of course Pita, and Bauer and Pieper released "Frantz" under the General Magic moniker, taking advantage of the then completely new digital technology that was beginning to reshape experimental electronic music.
Listening now, "Frantz" still sounds completely isolated - the duo's sounds were a long way from Warp's Artificial Intelligence buzz. Unlike Autechre, AFX, or Plaid, Bauer and Pieper were interested in texture, rhythm, and disruption far more than they were interested in crafting music for raver comedowns. So minor-key pads and extended breakdowns were out, long explorations of glitchy processes and distorted, dubby hip-hop beatbox patterns were in.
Tracks like 'Bonden' and 'Madshoes' sound almost like Miami's Push Button Objects (who incidentally also debuted in 1997) with loping, glitch-fired rhythms that over time became the norm, not the exception. But fusing these ideas with grubby industrial sounds (eerie fried electronics on 'Blob Return' or pre-Hospital Productions dungeon gurgle on 'Temko') gives the album an almost illbient adjacency that's charmingly on-point for right now. Even tracks like their fritzed re-processing of a ski music theme song ('The Official GM Ski-WM Theme') feels like it telegraphs the vaporwave sound somehow.
'Frantz' is stilll future music; if you try and make something nobody's ever heard before, 25 years later chances are it'll sound prophetic. So good.