Thursday, May 18, 2006

Infophysix


Dopplereffekts second EP/mini album was 'Infophysix' and again like its predecessor came out in 1995 on their own Dataphysix label. The fact that the title should be such a clear restatement of the label name is interesting. These two made up words I would take to mean a kind of new physics based purely on provable information/data. If this is true it all sounds a bit too organised, surely more breakthroughs in science come from accidents and intuitions. For example Neils Bohr and his peers would often leave their laboratories and take long walks in the countryside when this brand of inspiration would hit. But I can also see the logic in following pure data even if it is a colder and more sterile way of doing things and when you think about it this is exactly the option that Dopplereffekt are following and espousing themselves, increasingly so today.

In my article on ‘Fascist State’ I concentrated more on their philosophy and as far as influences went just mentioned Kraftwerk in passing. Now there is no doubt that Gerald Donald and his cohorts here have a thing for that massively influential Dusseldorf group but there is another act that should be considered as a possible influence as well. Yellow Magic Orchestra are often described in classically lazy hackneyed journalise as the Japanese Kraftwerk and in a sense this is perfectly true in that they were each others peers at the time and but only YMO managed to fuse their own countries ethnic music with their own contemporary sound. They were also very ahead of their time. To someone like Donald this must have sounded like something right up his alley and if you get to hear their music I think you’ll agree that its rough, song based production bears something of a resemblance to 1995 era Dopplereffekt. Donald would of course go on to express his fascination with Japanese technology on his Japanese Telecom project, which has even more of a YMO influence, in 1998 but even by this point he had shown signs of an interest in Japanese culture when it was more than likely he who referenced the Japanese film ‘Nauticaa’ during his Flexitone grouping with Brendan M Gillen. Personally I find Dopplereffekt music unique enough and certainly more than the sum of its influences but like everything it must take its place in history. If you think about it the biggest influence on electronic music is really by the innovators of electronic instruments and software and it is within this sphere that history truly dictates where music belongs. Basically, there was never going to be a band that sounded exactly like Dopplereffekt in the 1970’s.

I would say there is a good chance that all of the material on this and ‘Fascist State’ could well have been recorded around the same time and just compiled onto two different releases. There is a sameness to the overall production and vibe, plus they both would have come out within months of each other. But who knows? The personnel details are different here in that William Scott’s contribution is now downgraded to that of liaison, of course by the ’Gesamkunswerk’ comp he would not be mentioned at all! Donald again uses his Rudolf Klorzeiger alias and Kim Karli is also listed. The artwork pushes the scientific aspect of recording I guess you could say, there's a sort of schematic for an ENIAC device. This is a reference to the very first computer system, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer which was built in 1942 by the U.S. army for the purpose of calculating ballistic firing tables. With this in mind it shouldn’t be so hard to understand why Donald is so accepting of the negatives as well as the positives of the computer age.
There’s also a black and white snap of a seated Donald with Kim in a more subservient position to him on the floor. Donald sports a blankly serious expression while Kim goes for a to the side preoccupied look. Both are wearing white shirts with black ties and trousers. Kim might even be wearing black gloves too. Of course this is significant in that the mask of their identities is being removed but if there were not to be any interviews I guess this photo is calculated to make us even more intrigued. Although you would have to wonder who was at the end of the line if you used the phone or fax numbers which are included as well. I once spoke with Dan Bell who explained that his label Accelerate actually manufactured the Dataphysix stuff and I presume distributed it as well so maybe the numbers would be for their office.

Musically we have seven tracks beginning with ‘Voice Activated’. Their usual sparse production greets us along with the core sample, ‘That is incorrect, try again’. I presume this is the actual voice from the famous children’s educational toy ‘Speak and Spell‘. If it is I think this early computerised toy was used most famously in the film E.T., so I’m guessing that makes it an early 80’s invention, here reclaimed by Dopplereffekt as a classic future retro artefact. There is also a certain looseness in the production too, the pause at the 1min 40sec mark is evidence of this. ‘Speak & Spell’ is built around a disjointed vocal sample and even features the ‘That is incorrect’ sample last heard on the preceding track. It’s also full of weird random laser gun and retro computer sounds as well. This track also has a point where the sound drops out completely, another sign of their confidence in their production. ‘Denki No Zumo’ sounds the most Kraftwerky of the lot, it also has a sample that uses what could be a close game-based cousin to ‘Speak & Spell’. “Here is your score, six correct, four wrong”, “That is in-correct”, “That is correct”, “I win”, “You win” run the samples. These are probably the only things the game said but they all get a hearing here. ‘Die Radiometre’ or simply ‘Radiometer’ when it appeared on the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ compilation turns out to be a sturdy instrumental with some nice sounds and throughout but with nothing remarkable about it. ‘Pornoactress’ is probably the best known Dopplereffekt track, a duet of sorts between Donald and Kim. His line, “Watching you on the screen’ hers, “I want to be a porno star’. The pause she uses between this delivery is everything and somehow contains the essence of what separates them from their imitators. Hard to believe this slice of perfection is just under 2 and a half minutes long! But in saying all that I would have to plumb for ‘Infophysix’ as my favourite track here. A computerised female voice asks us to “Enter you four digit code” which is answered by a male voice saying what sounds like “Information”. This track to me sounds the most interesting and modern production out of everything here. You can hear Donald’s future for the next few years in it, very 2002 era Arpanet and like a lot of his late 90’s remix work. The tempo is quite jaunty, so many expert touches, great bass line, weirdly stretched synthesised guitar, basically the template is complete. The last few stripped down seconds contain another essential part of their essence as well.
‘Pornovision’ or ‘Pornoviewer’ as it was re-titled on the compilation has Kim doing a solo vocal which turns out to be just the one line, “I love to watch, pornographic movies.” Again notice the nicely judged delivery, the pause is all. It has to be said over her three featured songs with Dopplereffekt she manages to nail them all. I don’t know if there is any other female vocalist that could claim to have done so little so effectively. It’s hard to believe then that on the Video Mix of her other finest 3 minutes, ‘Scientist’, her vocal is actually cut! A busy production all round with a somewhat sudden end and time-wise another short one to finish out the release but who needs length when the quality is this good?

I would say that conceptually the release is very much about play with side one being of the more innocent variety and side two exploring the link between technology and sex. This does tie in with the theme of accepting the good and bad aspects of technology, of which I believe Donald sees neither. More information and data is all, consequences are secondary to progress. Even though my analysis of Dopplereffekt sounds a bit dry and serious at the end of the day there is a lot of unmistakable humour running throughout their music of this era.

The next article will tie up the loose ends of the Sterilisation and Scientist releases as well as the final word on the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ comp.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice article. I would agree that Infophysix is the stand out track. Very laid back and kind of dreamy.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous CCCP said...

Infophysix is also my preferred track.
Interesting blog, especially since there is almost no information whatsoever from Dopplereffekt, Arpanet, Japanese Telecom and the like.
I wonder where these totalitarian characters hide.

8:32 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home