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Cauldron Subsidence

(Echocord; US: 10 Nov 2009; UK: 10 Nov 2009)

The press for Quantec’s latest release points to the influences of the Berlin and Detroit electronic scenes throughout Cauldron Subsidence, and it’s true, for both certainly make their presence known. Berlin is represented via the ultra-minimal, kick-driven beats, while Detroit is evident in the style of the synth work on display. Mixed with the dub ambience Quantec had made himself known for on past releases, the two locative influences make for an appealing sound; one that distinguishes itself from any other minimal electronic releases in recent memory. However, there’s a problem: Despite the appealing hybrid sound, it’s very difficult to discern any real motivation or drive behind these ten tracks. They’re terribly mechanical and never bother to develop beyond the sound they establish in the first 30 seconds.

Almost every track is, apparently arbitrarily, between six and seven minutes long (with one eight-minute outlier), and a majority of the tracks end by simply doing a quick fadeout on the beat that had been going for the six or so minutes before the conclusion. Some vocal samples float around to change up the sound a bit. The album’s strongest track, “Pandemonium”, makes expert use of these samples, actually, but mostly, it’s just like listening to someone talk over the beat Quantec plays to an established crowd here. Many dub techno fans have already expressed appreciation for this latest work, and it is, at the very least, a well-produced and polished one. If he ever wants to step beyond that already-established audience, however, he’s going to have to allow for a little bit more adventure in his sound than the simple Berlin-by-way-of-Detroit augmentation he achieves here.


Mike Schiller is a software engineer in Buffalo, NY who enjoys filling the free time he finds with media of any sort -- music, movies, and lately, video games. Stepping into the role of PopMatters Multimedia editor in 2006 after having written music and game reviews for two years previous, he has renewed his passion for gaming to levels not seen since his fondly-remembered college days of ethernet-enabled dorm rooms and all-night Goldeneye marathons. His three children unconditionally approve of their father's most recent set of obsessions.

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