Release Date: Oct 28, 2014
Record label: Pan
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Like many impressive artists, TJ Hertz seems to rarely be impressed with himself. Take, for instance, his first records. "All nine minutes and twenty-five seconds of Objekt's 'CLK Recovery' are thrilling," we wrote in our blurb for the A-side of Hertz's second EP, one of RA's top tracks of 2011. "Objekt's sound design is awesome to behold," Philip Sherburne said in his review of "Cactus," a track he called "as malevolently hungry as the carnivorous house plant in Little Shop Of Horrors." Hertz, meanwhile, was less enthused.
We've come to a strange chapter in the story of electronic music. Sounds that were long considered niche are now mainstream. It's an exciting space to be in, as the possibilities of electronic music's history are basically endless, but it's also somewhat confusing. Who and what do we talk about when we talk about electronic music? Where do we draw the line between what electronic music was and what it has become? And why, if at all, is it important to make these distinctions? No surprise, then, that 2014 has given us more questions about "proper" electronic music than answers.
To date, Objekt's work has mined a furtive dialogue between broken-beat UK dubstep and a more continental techno sound. However, Flatland has none of intricately undulating techno epics or the gut wrenchingly cavernous sub-bass explorations that have peppered his discography to date. This largely plays to the album's advantage — there are no dizzying peaks to eclipse the numerous subtle webs of sound that he has created here.
It might just be me, but it seems there are few musical genres more fractured and disparate than modern electronic dance music. I know, I know, rock has also become hugely diverse, especially in the wake of punk's year zero and with the advent of cheaper recording equipment, and even more "niche" genres like noise and metal (especially the latter) have splintered into many sub-genres. Hell, even pop, supposedly just a simple vehicle for mass consumption, has seen itself transformed into an underground phenomenon produced on lo-fi gear by bedroom enthusiasts with wide-ranging influences that have fully distorted its original aim in wildly interesting and mysterious ways.