Germany’s Thinner/Autoplate was one of the first netlabels that I discovered when I began my foray into online music distribution, and they’ve remained one of my favorites due to the overall quality of their releases. It seems like 90% of the netlabels out there specialize in electronic music, and let me tell you, there’s a whole lot of filler and fluff clogging the intertubes. But Thinner/Autoplate’s catalog consistently offers up free music that’s well worth your bandwidth — be it dub, microhouse, trance, ambient, or experimental.
Examples of a Medusa is the latest from Autoplate (the label’s more ambient-minded half), a 3-song collaboration between Philipp Weigl (a classically trained pianist) and drummer Michael Hoffman that delves into cinematic ambience à la Craig Armstrong and Max Richter.
Like Armstrong’s The Space Between Us, Weigl and Hoffman combine orchestral sounds, sparse piano lines, Spanish guitar, and skittering, echoey beats. However, Weigl’s soft spoken word pieces, and the overall melancholy vibe, imbue these three songs with the same sort of existential angst and anxiety that one finds on Richter’s last couple of records, such as Songs From Before.
At times, the songs’ electronic origins do cause them to feel a little constrained (I’d love to hear the results if Weigl and Hoffman were able to ditch the synths and string pads and work with a real string quartet). And while Weigl’s whisper does become a bit affected at times while relating these tales of loneliness, alienation, and Kafka-esque paranoia, the spoken word element works well for the most part, blending in with the other elements to create some lovely — if eerie — atmospheres.
Indeed, the biggest complaint I have with Examples of a Medusa is that, at three songs and seventeen minutes, it’s just too short. It ends right when the duo are hitting their stride, and I’d love to hear them tackle some longer pieces — with some real strings, natch. All in all, another fine — short, but fine — release from the folks at Thinner/Autoplate.