Review: Anja Zaube NMRS002

2016-07-12
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The second vinyl release on new Berlin label Nemorous Records is again by Anja Zaube, a rising star of the techno underground renown for her sophisticated soundscapes that form a backdrop to intelligent, dark techno sets. It's more about the experience when you see Zaube play, not riding free on high energy, but burying yourself deep in the moment as you follow her tasteful selections, elegantly mixed. She sounds her best on Berghain's funktion-1, where I hope she returns often, but is more often found at ://about blank, playing to a sea of disassociated dancers swaying deeply to the music. Those tears in timespace, where only the immediate exists and will dissipate along with the final notes of her set, are saturated with Zaube's sound. Here she presents us with another original EP that will sit comfortably in sets by DJs who strive for some emotional connection in their mixes: throughout her EP, Zaube creates meditative reveries where there is ample space for contemplation. It's pure pleasure to connect with her music on Berlin dance floors. 



"Ravenous (Blind Observatory remix)" starts fast from a subaquatic opening, droning pleasantly out of the blankness with rising chords and beautifully sown notes that push up out of the earth and blossom in ecstatic melancholy. If you were expecting more dark urgency from the composer of "Thicket", you will be surprised to hear how light Zaube's touch can be.

"Lost Kopie" has a dark, slow tempo to grind to. Hypnotic in its intent to pull you into an enclosed shell outside of which nothing exists, you feel yourself sway and move your hips, with your face turned up towards the strings sounding above you. The pace picks up deliberately, increasing the pressure, expanding the intensity without letting it burst, your breath unconsciously held, sometimes relaxing until it is there irresistibly again. It feels like a wave that is never going to crash, a desire that will never quite be satiated. And when it does, the last aftershocks pulse through you, slowing and dying and making you smile. This track leaves me with dilated pupils.  

"Wherever" infuses a slow, deep, resonating bass with dreamlike modulating sounds. It is music for well into the middle of the party, when the first waves of pleasure have been enjoyed and you need to dig deep into yourself to find another strength. She picks up the pace, seducing us into movement. This is techno for the body, when your mind is about as blank as it can be, except for the sounds that stimulate recesses deep within your brain, when you dance, lips half open, feeling all of your muscles numbing, and your skin tingle at the resonating beat.

"Ravenous" picks up fast after the soft explorations of "Wherever". It logically follows the energetic end of a set. Famished crow-calls are sampled into the track, which has an ambience reminiscent of dark 80s synth-pop in the way the sound is processed, smothered in long chords before a high hat chases us towards the end. When the beat withdraws, I am floating over a sea of people left behind. Melancholic chords suspend me; a heartbeat bass drum leads to a sublime ending with little notes of hope scattered like tiny presents tinkling among the dark drone. Zaube softly wakes me from a dream that I did not want to end just yet, and holds us close with the faintest tinkling of bells until we return to our bodies, becoming complete again.

If you want to listen to intelligent, sophisticated techno, Anja Zaube is for you. Ravenous left me hungry for more.