Boomkat Product Review:
For any electronic music enthusiast, this has to be one of the year's most feverishly anticipated new releases. Reconvening for the first time on record since 2002's The Return Of Fenn O'Berg, Christian Fennesz, Jim O'Rourke and Peter Rehberg return as one of the avant-garde's foremost supergroups; a Travelling Wilburys of extreme computer music, if you will. Though perhaps you won't. Forgive the giddiness, readers, but a new Fenn O'Berg album is enough to discombobulate the best of us. In Stereo has the distinction of being the trio's first entirely studio-bound enterprise (the group's first two albums were constituted from live edits), recorded and composed over the course of a week spent at Studio GOK Sound in Tokyo. Perhaps in part because of their more formal surroundings, the three artists incorporated an array of instruments that transcended the laptop-generated sample-munching chaos of their earlier work, and In Stereo has the feel of a more serious undertaking because of that. Don't be too alarmed by that statement, however; despite the absence of mauled John Barry themes and slapstick glitch pyrotechnics this time around, In Stereo has the feel of a more in-depth interrogation of electronic sound, divided into six discreet tracks, each with its own elusive, perilously unnavigable internal logic when it comes to structuring. There's a great deal of information to be devoured at any given moment, and each piece exhibits considerable density and rate of change - seemingly every molecule of 'Part VII' is continually collapsing and rebuilding itself - but compositionally, In Stereo is heavy-going. Seductively so, at that. The album draws much of its character from its oblique slipperiness and restless state of flux; it's actually incredibly difficult to latch your ear to any given one of these tracks, and even after a few listens they retain an unyielding resilience to easy consumption. At no point during 'Part I', for example, do you imagine the track is about to erupt into a flurry of crisply engineered, processed drumming and piano treatments, and yet from out of nowhere it does just that before abruptly coming to a halt at the command of some surging glitches. Fusing the timeless idiom of analogue signal generation with the more unstable language of cutting edge digital synthesis is key to the trio's work here, and rarely do you hear so happy a marriage of old and new technologies as on 'Part VI', which finds classic, bloopy synth articulations simmering alongside streams of rapacious granular techniques in perfect disharmony. Living up to the weight of expectations, In Stereo is ferociously experimental and wonderfully addictive, exhibiting a creative kinship with composers from Francois Bayle to Curtis Roads, right through to the trio's peers like Keith Fullerton Whitman and labelmate Florian Hecker. A necessary acquisition, we're sure you'll agree.