[15 January 2009]
Between high-mark releases from Ryoji Ikeda, Alva Noto, and Kangding Ray, it’s been a great year for Raster-Noton. While Ikeda and Noto explore the outer reaches of coded rhythms and sound research, Kangding Ray and Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas project sit on the other end of the scale, with lush, emotional elements abound. Somewhere in the middle is Byetone, the solo project of label co-founder Olaf Bender.
The sound here is essentially Pan Sonic minus the excruciating high frequency pranks, minimal pulse rhythms and bouncy-ball synths, all bathed in loads of distant reverb. Single “Plastic Star” is the obvious high point; a tour-de-force of everything that Bender does well, peppered with repeated, tense crescendos from an empty pad. Elsewhere, Death of a Typographer works best when Bender sticks to this spacey/menacing vibe, as on “Rocky (Soft)”, featuring an incessant sawtooth buzz that sounds like the audio equivalent of a dark, glitchy computer screen. At times, passages descend from minimal to redundant, but for the most part, Death of a Typographer is the best album Pan Sonic never made.