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Warmdesk Guero Variations Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Minimal avant techno derived from the music of German composer Helmut Lachenmann...

Olli Siebelt 2003

Having previously shown up on labels like Fallt and Bip-Hop, Chicago's William Selman has been making a name for himself for a few years now with a steady and modestly impressive series of releases and compilation appearances under his Warmdesk moniker. Running through a variety of styles including minimalist techno, glitch and noise, hes now shown up on Seattle's excellent Deluxe label and this time has a bit of a story to tell.

Some records are made by long sessions the studio, others inspired by personal relationships, travel or simply club life. In a twist of fate that would make many a hip-hop producer proud, Guero Variations finds its defining moment in the used section of a Cologne record store.

While Selman was flipping through the selections, a recording by German composer Helmut Lachenmann caught his attention. Friends of his had been waxing lyrical about it forever and he decided to give it a go. Purchasing the release and bringing it home, he was floored by the music contained therein and decided to use those recordings as a base for his next project.

Lachenmann was not your average ivory pounding endorser of Bosendorfer or Steinway. His passion was creating music and sound from the strings, hammers and innards of the instrument rather than simply repeating what was written on the sheet music in front of him.

Throughout the nine variations of "Guero" here, Lachenmann's pieces are cut-up, sampled and spliced into downtempo minimalist techno. "Geuro Shore" bounces along with a soft ambient bed, its styled beats reminding me of a softer Kit Clayton or Marcus Nicolai. "Guero (Vermillion)"has more of a house feel, with Lachenmann's clicks and tocks buffering up against the rhythm loop.

Lachenmann'soriginal work comes out best however in "Guero (Disco)" where the sounds of grinding, clicking and general fooling about inside apiano work brilliantly with a laid back, yet surprisingly uptempo 4/4 groove.

Our only real complaint here is that Lachenmann's original material has been so diluted throughout the production process that the true nature of those original compositions often difficult to discern. Nonetheless, Selman has used these piano based samples as an interesting canvas on which to work, and his modifications shine through brilliantly.

It might be the same song nine times over, but it's just nine times more pleasure. A very tasty little release and another win for used records everywhere.

One man's detritus is another man's treasure, indeed.

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