Schneider TM: Zoomer

Matt Eberhart

Schneider Tm


Label: Mute
US Release Date: 2002-08-20
UK Release Date: 2002-09-23

Straight up, Schneider TM's 1998 release, Moist wasn't all that spectacular. And although this new record displays some rather interesting elements, it still doesn't completely impress. Basically, Mr. TM -- given name, Dirk Dresselhaus -- applies a complexly minimal layer of clarity to the forever static mold that shapes pop music. The results, heard on his brand new Zoomer, are the type of themes that we will hear on the radio and see listed in Top 40s within the next 10 or 15 years here in the US. So in this sense -- in Dresselhaus' ability to derive popicity from ascetic electronics -- the Schneider TM project deserves recognition. However, it's the unrefined traditional pop ingredients that leave much to be desired in Zoomer.

There is certainly no doubt about Dresselhaus' knack for the keystroke. He takes pins and needles of sound and builds rather interesting fields. But it's the additional elements that he drags into each track that end up running him in circles.

First of all, I must say that the work of Schneider TM is far superior to that of Her Space Holiday, but it's easy to see that such a comparison is a dilemma in itself. Her Space Holiday is one of the last names that should come up when referring to electronic music. Dresselhaus follows suite, though, as he generally pouts out lyrics that seem to imply his feeling sorry for himself 24/7, none of which need be repeated. Fortunately, his voice is much richer than what is heard on a Her Space Holiday record, but the point is that it HSH shouldn't even come up.

Lyrics and vocals aside, though -- and I mean far aside -- Zoomer draws in pieces from the likes of Cex and Funkstörung to establish some muscle-relaxing glitchy beats. More problems arise, though, as soon as the tracks develop. Take the song "Abyss", which begins with an almost overt reference to Detroit's Dopplereffekt with its electro ping ponging. Just as it should take off and impress, Dresselhaus seems to intently reduce the entire track into the lifelessness of a Beck-cover band with uninspiring funk samples and "doo dodo doos".

In the same way, "Frogtoise" starts with a chopped up and fuzzy two-step rhythm, but Dresselhaus leads himself down a dead end when he tries to pick up on surreal lyric absurdities. It's too bad that quality lyricism requires more than just pseudo-humorous tableau.

Possibly the best track on the album, "DJ Guy?" begins with an ambient melody and a malfunctioning metronome that soon invite pops and clicks to prickle through a body of stringy synths. Never too imposing or repetitive, the track gets extra points for its use of almost no vocals at all, which I cannot stress enough is Dresselhaus' biggest flaw.

If Schneider TM took all of the time that he spends on singing and writing lyrics and chose instead to dedicate those hours to further musical development, Dresselhaus would almost be assured production credit for the future Christina Aguleras and Backstreet Boys. But if he doesn't get shape up soon, listeners will quickly find themselves overly strung out with his depressing voice and empty messages.

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