Review: Defektmensch – (self-released, Feb 3)

While I enjoy my fair share of releases that are pretty much near-silent, Defektmensch’s  seems like a deeper burrow to musical nothingness than any of them. Resolutely minimal and subdued, the short two-track debut from the anonymous new German project was created using only tape, radio, and samples, a limited palette by most standards that still appears busier than what’s actually going on in the recordings themselves. I find myself thinking back to Iniciação, which to date is—lamentably—the only material by São Paulo artist Van Jack under that alias; with that album, too, I knew I had to write about it within the first fifteen-or-so seconds I heard of it. There’s something so sublimely null about the sluggish shuffle of almost-empty tape over corroded heads, the conspicuous presence of the medium itself (in the form of the hiss and low fidelity) impossibly amplifies and emphasizes the next-to-nil it contains. Even the steady if erratic trudge of the tape is subject to imposed emptiness; in “012622” it sputters and seizes as if stumbling to a finish line that keeps retreating, quietly evoking a futility that is ungrounded and abstract yet no less affecting. “020322,” recorded the same day the release was made available, is even more stifled, crumpled by a shifting weight that contracts to allow broken bits of antenna-snatched melody to leak from the sides. Is this the only honest “music” left?