Between the Worlds by Martin Stürtzer (Review)

An hour’s worth of ambient dub techno that takes the listener on a journey through the interstellar void.
Between the Worlds - Martin Stürtzer

Martin Stürtzer is a devotee of the “Berlin School,” a more cosmically minded variation of the krautrock genre that emerged from West Berlin in the ’70s. Eschewing drums and percussion, and embracing synthesizers, loops, and lots of space-inspired imagery, “Berlin School” artists like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze created “kosmische musik” (lit. “cosmic music”) designed to take listeners on a mind-expanding interstellar journey.

It’s quite fitting, then, that Between the Worlds was recorded during one of Stürtzer’s “Stay at Home” online concerts, which began in 2020 after live gigs were canceled due to COVID shutdowns. (Stürtzer is a prolific YouTuber; you can watch the live recording of Between the Worlds here.) After all, when confronted by shutdowns, limited social options, and a global pandemic, who wouldn’t want to take a journey through the vastness of the universe?

As befitting song titles like “Pulsart Artefact,” “Oort Cloud,” and “Haumea” (a dwarf planet located beyond Neptune’s orbit), Between the Worlds’ 62 minutes are filled with layer upon layer of echoing, chiming synths that seem to reverberate off into infinity. Combine those with deep base tones, pulsing beats (which feel subliminal more often than not), ominous atmospherics, and the slightest hints of analog gurgle, and you’ve got some ambient dub techno of the highest quality.

This is music that, even when playing in the background, makes you feel like you’re speeding through the dust clouds of distant nebulae, sliding into the deeper levels of subspace, or dancing it up at a discothèque perched on the edge of a black hole’s event horizon. In other words, if you ever feel a little trapped by COVID restrictions, Between the Worlds might be just the thing to help you escape far, far away.