Besides lecturing and performing his latest audiovisual laser show Lumiére II at Festival Forte, Robert Henke’s latest efforts include the “V L S I” series. It comprises of several singles released throughout 2015 (the first one, “X I E”, released in December 2014) to be compiled into the album “V L S I”, which is due summer 2016. “D E C” is the third release in this series, released on Monolake, a sub label of Imbalance Computer Music dedicated to releasing music by Henke. The title “D E C” is a combination of the first letter of the respective three tracks of the single.
‘Dystopia’, representing the “D”, kicks things off with a tense bass drum and sub rumble. Henke rarely uses a 4 / 4 approach to his drumming and this is no exception. A metallic sounding synth is the main element here with the pitch and length of the sample manipulated throughout the track. After the first 3 minutes, Henke struggles to bring that extra something that will keep you hooked for the remaining duration. Hi-hats are introduced in the last third, hinting at carrying the tune to a climax, but they are quickly removed and replaced by a subtractive ending, leaving a lingering bass drum afloat. The ideas on ‘Dystopia‘ are too few to stay the six-minute distance. Instead a shorter, quick injection of Henke’s usual beat routine would’ve sufficed.
‘Error’ is the only track without any drums in there. Dry sounding pads make up the meat of the arrangement which is fortunate since pads are very much Henke’s forte. As atmospheric as can be, they’re definitely making for the strongest point here. Perhaps the track that will get chosen as the intro to the “V L S I” album.
The name of the third track is very descriptive as Henke fills the beat exercise with percussions and diverse crash samples. The drumwork has a lot of high frequency content, which can overwhelm that particular frequency range. Using percussion with low to mid frequencies would have left room for the crash samples to bloom more freely. Whilst developing interesting content for the first half, ‘Crash’ faces the same problem as ‘Dystopia’. You get the overall gist of the track under the first few minutes and unfortunately, nothing remarkable really manages to merge from then on.
This new piece under the Monolake guise makes for a relatively pared-down exercise, with a limited battery of elements being used. It has a very clubby feel to it whilst remaining very much true to Monolake’s signature sound. The “V L S I” album will contain edited and re-worked material from this release so it remains to be seen if positive alterations of the tracks on “D E C” will be made. Relative to the other output under the Monolake alias, this is definitely not his most accomplished release. Relative to electronic music as a whole? Well, this is still a Robert Henke record.
Read our visual feature with Robert Henke on his audiovisual laser show ‘Lumière II’.