Review: Manuel Klotz – Hoax (Loft Editions, Aug 6)

Though Berlin sound artist Manuel Klotz doesn’t list field recordings among the materials used to create Hoax, opening track “Düne” begins with a seething draft that resembles an ominous wind blowing by. It turns out this is well-aligned with what was in mind for the release; Klotz describes it as “hauntological derive trough [I assume ‘drive through’] the Schönower Heide, a nature reserve nearby Berlin, made by havoc and devastation,” a central concept that drives a great deal of the dark, skulking energy that plagues this cassette. “Düne” floats and builds itself upon that simulated wind, with more artificial electronic textures steadily creeping in to fill out the shadows, but Klotz doesn’t place the dynamic movement of his composition at the mercy of organic growth: sudden stretches of caustic circuit-bending squall (I’m not sure if it is actually circuit bending, but it certainly has that feel to it) intermittently shatter any uneasy tranquility that managed to seep in while your guard was down, the added volume and immediately veering the trajectory of the piece into apocalyptic industrial wastelands. However, this may all just be a crescendo to the following track, appropriately titled “Havoc,” which kicks into gear right off the bat with an unrelenting assault of gushing razor-sharp distortion, and like Pedestrian Deposit it only hits harder against the relative serenity of what precedes it. Pulling off a combination of both ambient, atmospheric sound design and scorching harsh noise is not easy to do; you have to earn it, and that’s exactly what Klotz does, which is why the blast of scientific power electronics mayhem works so damn well. The title and concluding track is the smoking aftermath of the destruction, seething and growling and simmering just under the surface of all-out chaos.

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