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Markus Guentner - 1981

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Artist: Markus Guentner

Album: 1981

Label: Kompakt

Review date: Jul. 6, 2005

Markus Guentner always cops the ‘baby Wolfgang Voigt’ line, as though he’s a mere chip off of the old block, his solo discs for Kompakt recalling Voigt’s classic run of misty, moist Gas records. It’s all on the surface: slow-moving, hazy ambience, synths like light-headed strings, and emissions of digital air and cirrus breath. However, Voigt is much more interested in density. The cover art for the Gas records magnifies the verdant mass of German forest-scapes, looking like tourist snaps of woodland walks. By contrast, 1981 offers a few forms of flora cut’n’pasted into a blank-white distance. The effect is the opposite of Voigt: instead of amplifying the exultant awe of dense, heady sound, Guentner goes for calm, cool spaces.

If anything, Guentner worships the aquatic. (The title of his album on Ware, Audio Island, would suggest as much.) His music skirls in water, forming small puddles of the ‘next best sound to silence,’ but this is no colourless Windham Hill essay. Everything melts together, and it’s far from invidious ambient wallpaper. Listening through speakers, Guentner’s music quickly adapts to the space you inhabit, but headphone audition unveils tiny details, uncovering the merman sighs nestling in “Wenn Musik Der Liebe Nahrung Ist” or the wave-foam reverb that spills out of “Der Wüstenplanet.” When Guentner drops two shuffle tracks in the middle of the record, they’re not so surprising - “Jellyfish,” in particular, acquiesces to Guentner’s placid vision. “Hi-Jacked” may raise a cold sweat, but the overall mood is positively Apollonian.

By Jon Dale

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