Boomkat Product Review:
Carsten Nicolai is hardly a slouch in terms of his release frequency, but it feels like a rare treat to hear the Raster Noton boss exploring the jerky rhythmic variations he does so well. ‘Univrs’ is a followup to 2008’s ‘Unitxt’, and has an equally lofty and academic sidestory, but we don’t really need to go into that. The fact is that this might be Carsten’s best full-length since the genre-numbing ‘Transform’ back in 2001. Yep, ten years ago – and while he’s had some cracking releases since, few seem as perfectly crafted and dangerous as this. The gorgeous humming melodies of ‘Xerrox’ and the serene experiments of his collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto are nowhere to be seen, instead we’re treated to rugged industrial barrages of beats, violent noise and occasional glassy tones. It’s like Pan Sonic or Sleeparchive thrown through the corroded guts of Ted Hughes’s Iron Man then fed into Bill Gates’s nightmares, trust me on this one. There are elements of the long-gone clicks ‘n cuts scene Nicolai helped create, echoes of Einsturzende Neubauten, and a sly wink to the current crop of gloomy 4/4 operators, but Nicolai’s sound is really all his own. He’s been perfecting these rhythms for so long that it feels he’s operating inside his own genre, and mercifully without any of the self-indulgence you might expect from someone of his stature. ‘Univrs’ is a record made for enjoyment - sleazy, basement style, rusty enjoyment. It’s the record we’ve wanted him to make for far too long and it delivers on every level.