Boomkat Product Review:
Geir Jenssen returns to vintage analog gear on new album 'Shortwave Memories', taking influence from Mute founder Daniel Miller and the early days of post-punk. Feather-lite and emotive synth-heavy electronix are the order of the day, highly recommended for fans of Dark Entries or Minimal Wave and mid 90's electronic-a.
It's been too long since we've heard Jenssen let loose on a studio full of buzzing boxes - his last few albums were based around samples and written on a computer; but on 'Shortwave Memories' he once again flexes his synth knowhow, using tactile and preset-less instruments from the '70s and '80s to build into his familiar framework - not so much as an exercise in nostalgia, but more as an attempt to make something new using the sonic palette of the era.
It's been a while since Jenssen centered his compositions around rhythm, but a quick listen to his rave inspired early run - like 1991's "Microgravity" and 1994's epochal "Patashnik" - makes it easy to join the dots. The drum machines used on 'Shortwave Memories' are simple and pattern-based, swerving the rhythmic trickery that shaped the later 'Artificial Intelligence' era. Instead, light, fluttering cycles underpin soupy alien landscapes and buzzing oscillators, warm pads and slithering arpeggios. It owes more to dub's spare, creative sound than it does techno's stargazing futurism.
'Shortwave Memories' doesn't sound like post-punk, but Jenssen's reference to it makes sense, at times it feels like he's referencing raw, era-specific moments - like a loose minute-long off-cut from a synthwave compilation - slowed down, looped and expanded into proggy voyages across pink-hued interstellar seas. The shadow of Vangelis's 'Blade Runner' looms over the neon-lit pads and strings, but Jenssen refuses to provide the expected pay-off - instead he freezes a mood to let us marinate inside it.
'Night Shift' balances throbbing low-end bass with gently modulated, echoing synth pads and a rolling CR-78 drum pattern, and while it's tempting to compare it to Jenssen's early material, there's little of the bleep-era rave influence on display here - it sounds more like Bola's symphonic electronics, or Higher Intelligence Agency's psychedelic minimalism. The title track hits a similar note, with pinprick, slowed-down synths circling around swung beatbox rhythms and sci-fi strings.
Closing track 'Transfigured Express' marries a hip-hop style bump with levitational drones and airlock squelches; it slowly unfolds over almost 15-minutes, allowing the trace melodies to sink into your consciousness before you've fully noticed.