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The Terminal Symphony
Jeff Witschler has gone by many names in the cassette-centric experimental underground--Impregnable, Deep Jew, and Secret Abuse being a few previously used, Rene Hell being the latest. As Rene Hell, Witschler conspicuously focuses on the synthesis of electronic and classical music, a deep tradition considering that high-art composers were toying with synthetic sounds well before they became fashionable in pop. The Terminal Symphony
, his latest, draws on minimal and avant-garde styles, as well as German komische, and also a bit of the ominous neon textures of 1980s sci-fi movie soundtracks. It's in the same general vicinity of a crossover like Oneohtrix Point Never, but working with a narrower palette of sounds and styles. There are some harsh undercurrents here and there, but this album feels more calmly mannered, less oriented towards the youthful, structureless noise-making associated with Witschler's past. There are moments of buzzing, glacial stasis and also those like the non-descriptively named "Baroque Ensemble Coda", full of alert movement and juggernaut grooves, that sound like a shaken snow-globe filled with lasers. Highlights like "E.S. Des Grauens in Fifths" feel playful, rather than studious. ("Juliard Op. 66" has finally given me a concrete noise to associate with "molebots chirping," a misheard Radiohead lyric that's been bouncing around my brain for ten years.) It's not a directly accessible pop record, by any means, but for those odd souls with an unusually dedicated interest in differing synth tones, it's fine headphone-piped enhancement for bouts of quizzical ceiling-gazing.