Efdemin, Decay

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It’s hard to categorize the music made by Phillip Sollmann, best known as Efdemin. Ostensibly it’s some kind of deep house, until you hear the chilly repetition and careful attention to silence, space and reverb. On Decay, the German producer’s third album, this aspect of his work is clearer than ever, unclouded by the merry jazz stylings which characterized Chicago, or the shiny, very-2007 sounds of Efdemin.

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Accordingly, it’s also his starkest work to date. The melodies here are just as beautiful and well written as anything before, but you have to dig right down into each composition’s brooding depths to find the fractal chords which divide, combine, and blossom there. Tracks like “Parallaxis” and “Solaris” best exemplify this quality, while at the same time showing off Sollmann’s stated Axis and M-Plant influences. If you want to understand the inherent beauty of repetition, these are good places to start.

At other times, Decay sounds like a typical Conforce subterranean excursion, icy synths quivering through the gloom with superb attention to detail (“Subatomic”). Tracks like this are almost unbearably pregnant in contrast to the more pounding numbers, like “Decay.” Its deadly sense of pursuit recalls Recondite’s Hinterland LP, as does the feeling of delicate nature in “The Meadow,” where a simple piano loop has much more impact than it should.

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Despite such similarities, the album could only be a Sollmann creation. Whenever things get too serious, they’re tempered by whimsical or playful samples. “My body isn’t listening to me,” teases the first song, before engaging its pared-down bells and radiant drones. “Solaris” ends with a German woman enthusing over the music, and with its light-footed percussion and weird, spiraling synths, “Track 93” is just plain fun. It’s a reminder of his talent that Sollmann is able to tie all these things together into a coherent whole. As a result, Decay offers a subtle, seamless ride from start to finish,  but with a diverse sense of intricacy that will keep you coming back over and over.

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