|6||Einzeller (For Alien Radio)||4:33|
|8||Energies of the Mind||4:00|
As one half of Phantom Horse, his long-serving electronic duo with Ulf Schütte, Niklas Dommaschk co-produces beautifully muted, Kraut-inspired jams that seem to soundtrack fictitious TV ads for wondrous imaginary household appliances, e.g. a calmly efficient, if slightly unsettling kitchen robot with an integrated lava lamp feature.
In contrast, Shapes cuts tracks down to size – nothing here is longer than five-and-a-half minutes. Also, Dommaschk has turned up the treble, the prominence of the higher frequency spectrum adding bite and menace to these deceptively simple synth polyrhythms. Whereas opening track “Benzin” (German for “Petrol”) manages to conjure the paradoxical image of something or someone meandering with urgency, “Einzeller” (German for “single-celled organism”) channels a John-Carpenter-style pulse, complete with horror sound effects. “Interference” is a truly effective representation of the term, with piercing, but quiet tinnitus frequencies set above a beat as sparse as it is crunchy. “Two Stones”, by contrast, offers a kind of robotic wistfulness whereas closing piece “Energies of the mind” fizzes out like a jumble of toy keyboards attempting to score a science programme - and failing, but instead revealing some much grander emotional truth.
This is the sound of breaking some kind of inner lockdown, of turning inwards and then projecting parts of murky inner shadows outward, as well-defined and sometimes lurid shapes, individually clear, but still in the process of becoming organized into a complete whole. The unfinished is what excites us the most. May the shapes never find their slot in the jigsaw puzzle.
All songs by Niklas Dommaschk Recorded between 2017 and 2020 in Berlin and Nijmegen Mastering by Edgar Medina Artwork by Daniel Castrejón