Austria’s history as an engine of European culture—Mozart and Freud being well-known high points—tapers dramatically through the devastating years of World War II. Yet, a spirit of sophisticated creativity seems to persist in this small Alpine nation, tossing out occasional gems such as the underappreciated works of Konrad Becker and Falco in the later years of the Cold War.
Even now, several decades after the Anschluss, Austria keeps its hand in the culture game with a healthy electronic music scene, hosting frequent festivals and a disproportionate number of recording artists. Just two of these artists are Leon Leder (recording here as Asfast) and Peter Kutin, who offer six tracks of cerebral electro on this untitled split.
Leder takes the first half of the disc with three pieces that sound somewhat like introductions to songs that never start, still in spirit yet offering enough detail to hold interest. Leder’s skill at generating moods is the main selling point of these tracks. Juxtaposing suspense-filled string and bass sounds against sparse, punctuating electronic drum hits, Leder sets up dark clouds at the horizons of the mind. He lets these storms brew there awhile before winding them down again, sometimes abruptly, to allow for the next track.
Asfast’s entries are certainly good listening, but they suffer in the shadow of what follows. Kutin, on the second half of the disc, exhibits his delicate sensibilities in both his manipulation of sounds and the way he assembles those sounds into a complete piece. The result is three tracks with just enough complexity to create an engaging listening experience. The highlight of of this untitled effort might be the fifth track, Kutin’s “CMYK”: a disassociated fantasia too full of subtle gestures to be fully appreciated in one listen.
The split is overall an appealing collection for those with a taste for more rarefied electro. There are, unfortunately, some production flaws that introduce distortion into some of the louder moments of the music. Hopefully these flaws are limited to the review copies of the album and do not affect retail copies of the release.