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Cassegrain - Tiamat

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Artist: Cassegrain

Album: Tiamat

Label: Prologue

Review date: Mar. 19, 2013

German duo Cassegrain take the name for their latest release Tiamat from the Babylonian chaos monster. If anything, though, this six-track EP is the embodiment of their take on dub-techno after Hüseyin Evirgen and Alex Tsiridis have buffered out the edges of a heretofore scabrous discography — chaos has very little to do with it.

You can look at this two ways. On the one hand, this is their most precise release yet and speaks to a self-evident streamlining. Evirgren and Tsiridis have been trafficking in the propellant, headier end of techno since they first collaborated at the Red Bull Music Academy’s Barcelona edition in 2008. Perhaps better known for producing names like Lukid, Mano Le Tough, Pursuit Groove or Jamie Woon, Evirgren and Trsiridis bore fruit of their own that eventually made its way to Kevin Gorman’s Mikrowave imprint in the form of 2010’s “Cotton” 12”. The irritated, nigh dubstep rhythms (not to mention Benga’s distorted vocal) on “Cotton” caught the ear of Norman Nodge, Sigha, and eventually Munich’s Prologue label, who released the Dropa EP a year later. A debut release for the Athenian label Modal Analysis, work with Tin Man on Killekill, and a rather subdued M_Rec LTD release followed before Cassegrain made their way back to Prologue for the more conservative Coptic EP last year. Coptic may have been overlooked, but alongside Voices From the Lake and Notfromearth’s The First Contact (for starters), Cassegrain helped contribute to Prologue’s most impressive year to date.

What you can tell in listening to each of these releases straight through is that Evirgren and Trsiridis get infinitesimally less weird with each release. The rhythms grow familiar if not exactly rote, the rolling kick starts to occupy the same space in your headphones, the carefully deployed atonal attacks and decays become increasingly considered. Dub eats the techno before your very ears.

Thus, the other hand: This is their least adventurous release yet. “Taiga” skips the descent and dives in deeper and more immediately than any previous Cassegrain release — you’re so far down in it that you can barely make out the melody, comprised of some kind of broken piano keys so far away that they’re barely recognizable. The 4/4 thump threads its way through every track and it’s not easy to remember one from another even after repeat listens because the beat throbs so inflexibly (in BPM) and ceaselessly (excepting for the brief hiatus on the title track).

Of course, this vibe is all very much on Rrose’s plane and I make no secret of my affections in that regard. But while I think Cassegrain does this sort of bleak/peak set fodder very well, they have another side of themselves they’re playing close to the chest here that could stand to benefit from more exploration. “Turn Aside” approaches the rough digital noise that fascinates on something like “Plate #2,” and they’ve very much got down the “computer sounds of the 1950’s” vibe on “Task,” but each of these six tracks seems to propel forward in spite of itself. Only “Ignite” entertains an alternative, with surrounding off-kilter rhythms before an abrupt resolution.

Sure, Tiamat is beautiful. From Guy Archard’s arresting herd of fallow deer on the cover to the fax machine printout anxiety of “Joule” to a good example of what I think they excel at most singularly on “Ignite,” Hüseyin Evirgen and Alex Tsiridis have made something of which they can be proud. In context, however, Tiamat feels “merely” satisfying. As with their namesake, Cassegrain’s depth still remains intriguingly unknown.

By Patrick Masterson

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