Dave S. SoDo
Gentle, therapeutic, hypnagogic…three words that certainly do not necessarily epitomize the vast catalog of music that the Berlin techno label Boysnoize have set out to rock the club with for the past decade. However, with SCNTST’s new breathtaking effort, “Puffer,” it is clear that not only has the label stepped progressively left of the conventions of minimal techno’s dance floor comfort zones, but the producer has issued an honest, intellectual statement of independence, achieving something much more sophisticated and nuanced than an album comprised of straight-laced bangers and booty-shakers. With this new effort the 22-year-old producer, born Bryan Müller, has ventured out extensively from his contemporaries absorbing the compelling, profound facets of the most spectacular aspects of music genres not at all associated with his homeland of Germany, not to mention the technoverse, therein.
Over the course of the album’s effervescent diffusion through lush soundscapes a couple solid conclusions can be drawn as to what the mission, or more precisely, the destination of this body of work is: SCNTST seeks to bridge the gap between a number of neglected or shunned peripheral music styles to that of modern day German/minimal techno and house. Unabashedly carving out previously untouched plots of land and adjoining these disparate zones of new age, ambient, and left-field bass music. Not only that, but in geocaching these various, typically isolated genres, he deliberately chooses to buffer the serious hyper-intellectualized roots of booming dance music with occasional strategic breaths of non-linear gags which appear, most often, as vocal samples. Thirteen seconds into the album, as a hazy ambient synth flows in, you hear SCNTST faintly utter, “Yo…” greeting his listeners with a strangely out-of-place playful acknowledgement that at first seems completely alien and pointless in the context of the rest of the album. Two tracks later, listeners are given a mountainous bass blast, with “Hygh 2k12,” where a vocal sample repeatedly advocates they, “Get high,” and, again later, past the album’s half-way point listeners are given a hilariously bleated greeting during “Flight,” hearing a, typically all-too-scripted, female flight attendant uttering, “Thank you for your attention, we wish you a pleasant flight.”
As listeners, and passengers, on what I can only describe as a remarkably smooth relaxing, albeit intrinsically quirky, flight with ‘Puffer Airlines’, one can begin to make out their own home in the distance, below, as they glance out their window seat with one of the album’s most down-to-earth tracks, “UV Houzz”, a four-to-the-floor slow-burner, that is as much after-hours deep house as it is an observably meditative ambient charm. The serenity of its synth fades away in its final seconds, as one final exhalation is made, almost preparing the listener for the harsh reality of the journey nearing its end. So many sonic lessons and subtle breakthroughs can be observed as the closing track deploys the album’s landing gear and the ears are finally reacclimatized to the earth, when “H8 Drop” chugs its way in. In one of the more bombastic beats on “Puffer,” it becomes painfully obvious that the trip has run its course and we must now exit the plane. As the beat tromps along and harps pluck with a delicate, but stern sentiment, forcing listeners to leave the comforts of the album (or first class seats on the plane, as its come to be recognized, by this juncture) and return to their daily lives. So much can be said about the value placed on each song’s titular significance within this magnificent world of music on “Puffer,” but I keep returning to its fourth track, “Gletscherspalte”, a compound word in German translating in English to ‘glacier cleft or crevasse’. It seems even more meaningful to me that crevasse holds both literal and figurative meaning as a physical crack in a glacier, or, more appropriately, in this particular case, as a “discontinuity or ‘gap’ between the accounted variables and an observed outcome”. Such a definition serves as the perfect summation of this new album by SCNTST – a set voyage that drifts away casually into the unknown, soaring above the topography of extravagant landscapes of various musical elements which then, both, connect the dots and blur the lines between standard and unconventional dance music.