The striking first entry into the CUSP label’s discography comes from Cologne-based sound artist Lu Katavist, employing a variety of synthesizer modules controlled with the Haken Continuum Fingerboard to create a cavernous tapestry of deeply spatial and spectral soundscapes.
Lu Katavist (real name Luka Höfler) approach to the material derived on ‘Inburst’ has been wholly improvisational, but not in any sense traditional. Rather than acquiring any sort of mastery of the equipment chosen to build the sounds heard, Höfler has opted to adopt an almost automatic writing approach to sculpting the material, which he describes as ‘blurring the lines between creating and listening’. The aesthetic goals behind ‘Inburst’ are two fold; to introduce the Western ear to timbres and melodies more associated with lesser heard xenharmonic scales and to inspire a minds eye landscape for the listener to populate with their own experiences, focusing on scattered and layered frequency bands and melody to create a vibrant and evolving mise-en-scene to paint with.
‘Drop Zerdehnung’ is the first of two long form pieces. Its 11-minute journey beginning with disquieting bell chimes and blocks of stillness, that throughout its crawl slowly begin to amass darkened slabs of fizzling menace, hazed by an insect like chirping. In this mass of bass and texture, Höfler weaves multiple frequency bands in and out of pitch that sound uncannily like moans, that mask the buried melody, hidden under these shimmering textures.
Sandwiched by two vastly different atmospheres, opener ‘Slaft Inburst’ morphs warped electronic brass with tangled webs of static, and ‘Needle Sandwich’ searing the listener’s ears with shafts of coruscating sine tones that shriek like violins. ‘Drop Zerdehnung’ is comparatively subdued and reveals Höfler more in his role as observer that provocateur.
The second side is largely formed of a triptych of works mining a similar vein, containing raucous bursts of stinging white noise that punctuate the icy stillness in a hair raising fashion. All three instances anchored by bubbling submarinal tones that evoke Höfler’s bass music roots with his Elfish Echo IDM project. ‘Fingerzeugung – The Coagulated Sea’ is the second long form excursion and a fittingly grandiose closer to a mesmeric record. ‘Undult’ acts as a precursor to the piece, beginning with spidery chimes of manipulated zithers that wink like sparkles of light on a rolling wave. The final tracks bleed together, a tide that blooms and crashes in around ghosted, gravely electronics and built of a swathe of serene yet emotive waveforms redemptive in colour.
Like all of the pieces that make up the record, Höfler lets his machines voice their strange beauty in an organic manner where the delicacies of the sonics are richly revealed. It marks an assured start to a label that aims to explore the outer limits and in Lu Katavist one of its finest navigators.