The Simian Mobile Disco member, forced into pandemic isolation due to a health condition, emerges with a startlingly intimate ambient record.
This is the tension that underpins Jas Shaw's Sollbruchstelle I-III, an album that compiles his three 2021 EPs. Shaw's last LP, 2019's Exquisite Cops was a triumphant reminder of the Simian Mobile Disco member's talents as a fiercely inventive techno producer. On Sollbruchstelle I-III he builds worlds with beatless synth compositions, expanding on the ideas behind his 2020 record Klavier, which explored minimalism via prepared piano. With this latest LP, Shaw earns the title of composer, not just producer.
Jas Shaw lives with the cell disorder AL amyloidosis, meaning that his antibody-producing cells don't work in the way that they're supposed to. To mitigate the danger of the coronavirus pandemic, Shaw has spent the past year or so in near-total isolation, living, eating, sleeping and working in the same room. The range of sentiments expressed on Sollbruchstelle I-III are the product of a year alone, each idea and feeling explored with a prolonged intimacy.
The album starts out tranquil with the spacious drones of "Heavenvetica," but the strident lead line on "The Revenge Of Noise On Harmony" and pensive melodies of "You Can See His Lips Moving" venture from soothing moods to something more pensive and ominous. Over the course of the album's 21 tracks, Shaw explored a range of emotions via delicate abstractions that manage to be deeply affecting. During this bizarre period, Shaw seems to have found solace in small, intricate movements. More minimalist than ambient tracks like "Ask For Me Again" or the album closer "Made Not To Fade" are muted studies in perpetual motion, with neoclassical-style motifs that sway and gently morph to different registers and instruments.
Other tracks eschew minimalist prettiness. "Felt Compute, Might Delete" surfs rapidfire arpeggios for a Komische-style sense of wonder while "I Wig On A Cone" experiments with atonal synth work. In Shaw's hands, ambient pieces function more like sonic fractals than furniture music. Rather than cracking under the despair of solitude, on Sollbruchstelle, Shaw looks within, unlocking a startling and intimate creativity.
Wed / 12 May 2021
Sollbruchstelle I: Become The Scenic Route
01. Håller Tummana
03. An Argument That Takes More Than Five Minutes
04. Ask For Me Again
06. It Turns Into A She
07. Become The Scenic Route
Sollbruchstelle II: Absent And Incorrect
01. The Revenge Of Noise On Harmony
02. Felt Compute, Might Delete
03. I Wig On A Cone
04. Caution Your Blast
05. An Uncertain Ratio
06. Noise Will Be Noise
07. Absent And Incorrect
Sollbruchstelle III: Snacks Of Carelessness
01. Rhyme Undisturbed
02. Snacks Of Carelessness
03. A Man With Two Watches
04. Norwegian Blue
05. You Can See His Lips Moving
06. Double Stop
07. Made Not To Fade