Reagenz, Playtime


Illustration by Allan Deas

[Workshop]


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Improvisation. In house? Sure, DJs do it every night. Move D did it before with Benjamin Brunn on Songs From The Beehive, creating sketches beforehand but recording everything in more or less real time. Plenty of parallels exist between that record and Playtime but none are quite so telling as this. To be frank, I don’t know if the recording of Playtime was actually in real time or improvised, but this is a release whose unfolding seems so natural and human it seems unlikely that it’s the work of automation. Many complain about the lack of musicianship in house and techno, and Playtime serves, in part, as a solid response to such silly claims.

[zero r=”Playtime” a=”Reagenz” t=”Keep Building”]

Sure, Playtime may violate most of Workshop’s criteria, but its devotion to analog synthesis feels right at home on a label that’s become the poster child for the those interested in all things sans-MIDI. This is a showcase of two virtuosos of their machines, or in some cases guitars, as on the building early-morning workout of “Dinner With Q.” Guitars in electronic music are a hard thing to pull off, but Reagenz make it feel like they’ve belonged all along, with Moufang’s airy guitar complementing the breezy electronics and vocal hums surrounding it. “Shibuya Day,” recorded at the home of a Japanese synth collector, is a laid back and mostly beatless play with texture.

“Keep Building” is the star dance floor cut of the pack, pairing warbled narration from Fred P with what sounds like a constantly descending bass line. Its thirteen minutes feel almost stunted; the slow but steady changes and progression Moufang and Sharp provide keep every bar captivating. Elsewhere, shorter cuts like “Freerotation” combine cloudy backgrounds with almost two-stepping percussion. The 23 minute “Du Bist Hier!” closes the record on an ambient note, and is a nice way to finish off a record full of both parallels and differences. Unlike Songs From The Beehive, Playtime has the floor at the front of its mind, and its ambient passages seem directed straight towards the chill out rooms of yore.

[zero r=”Playtime” a=”Reagenz” t=”Freerotation”]

Given some of the previous releases on Workshop one might not expect Playtime to be quite as light as it is, but with its brisk sound and natural progressions it’s one of the most enjoyable listens I’ve come across in awhile. Many great electronic works (of 2009 at least) trended towards the dark and serious (Vertical Ascent, Three EPs), but Playtime evokes the kind of feeling that its name does: a sense of play and light-heartedness connected with childhood. As academic as you like, Reagenz combine the exploration and amusement of youth with the skill and panache that comes with years of experience. With both of their albums inspired by seeing Autechre play live, I hope the pair have the opportunity to see Autechre again; I’d rather not wait another fifteen years for the next Reagenz release.

Limbic  on February 11, 2010 at 1:12 PM

hey Guys! I am a realy big fan of LWE,every day visiting.. BUT I realy dont like this new player..!
greetz,Limbic

littlewhiteearbuds  on February 11, 2010 at 1:22 PM

We are currently pushing for a longer sample period, which we hope will make the player more amenable to readers.

Don_John  on February 11, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Agreed! I doubt I’ll continue to visit this site as often as I do because of the new player. Being able to listen to a full clip was AWESOME!!

Ahoyskin  on February 18, 2010 at 7:44 PM

They’re coming to Philly! In Move D and Spacetime guises as well as Reagenz. Saw Jonah years ago and he was great then. Can’t wait.

And as far as the player, can’t you just hear as much of you want of a track on other sites (before you BUY it) elsewhere? This site has great FREE reviews that I would have paid top dollar for years ago when I was buying Jockey Slut.

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