Release Date: Mar 19, 2013
Record label: BPitch Control
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
If anything anchors Ellen Allien's work, it's her attitude, rather than a sound. From the icy abstraction of Sool to the playful indie-dance of Dust, from the leftfield techno-pop of Orchestra of Bubbles to her flamboyant take on house music on Watergate 05, the one constant in her work is a refusal to be boxed-in. She rarely repeats herself or looks to capitalise on previous successes.The upside of this is honesty.
While listening to Ellen Allien's LISm, it helps to realize that the project that spawned it was inspired by elliptical writing, cut-up cinema, and other art forms where deconstruction is another means of creation. A single 45-minute track commissioned for a French dance production that spans experimental guitar rock, moody synth passages, and the crisp techno on which she cut her teeth, LISm shares a similarly fractured yet oddly cohesive feel (and must have given the dancers lots to interpret). Over the course of her career, Allien has traveled from style to style, and in some ways this album feels like a microcosm of that approach.
The creative process for LISm brings to mind "Boléro" by Ravel, which was originally written as a commissioned ballet, but grew to take on a life of its own, becoming the composer's most famous piece of music. Similarly, LISm was originally created by BPitch Control boss Ellen Allien as a collaborative dance piece, performed as "Drama per Musica," under the direction of Alexander Roccoli and Séverine Rième. Like the structure of "Boléro," LISm picks up steam as it moves forward.
Berliner Ellen Allien clearly doesn't view boundaries in quite the same way as many of her techno peers. Using terms like "fearless" to describe musicians who cycle through contrasting styles in their career often comes across as lazy shorthand for competency-- the music rarely eclipses its obvious influences. Allien has occasionally veered close to that space, although mostly there's a strong feeling of immersion in the genres she splintered off into in works like Sool and Dust.
An album without track breaks forces the listener to stay submerged in a continuous dream. By presenting LISm as a single piece in lieu of a segmented LP, German producer Ellen Allien brews a steady trance that alienates and comforts in turn. The follow-up to 2010’s Dust, LISm‘s a chilly one; as Allien said in a recent interview with Société Perrier, “you can feel the winter of Berlin in it.” LISm sees Allien assuming the role of composer rather than DJ.