After a break of five years, Carsten Nicolai the data-centric mastermind returns with his third instalment of the Xerrox series. The Xerrox series deals with the manipulation of data by means of endless reproduction.
Alva Noto's live shows are often based on this data manipulation, incorporating partnerships with visual artists such as Japan's Ryoji Ikeda, leaving audiences in awe after colour inducing assaults and pixel-perfect manipulation. It's an approach which Carsten has coined, but in my opinion, sometimes at the cost of the listening experience when outside of the 20ft screens and surround sound. Weighing up these live experiences with personal listening sessions, you often wonder if they can ever live apart - and maybe they were never intended to.
When approaching Vol. 3 I wondered if the five years of data manipulation would impact his often minimal approach to the series and we'd be left with clicks and beeps. Tracks like Monophaser 2 are still at the very top for me, and as the series expanded, I had to remind myself of the narrative Carsten had put into play. Volume 1 referred to the old world, volume 2, to the new world. And now, Vol.3, towards space.
It's as if Carsten was inspired by one of my favourite unofficial videos for Monophaser 2 (see above). This video is the perfect match for this track, and as Vol.3 seeps through my headphones, I look back and realize in excitement that the epic-soundtrack style synths that break on Monophaser 2 as the rockets break-off, are just a taster of what we had in store for his next volume.
On Xerrox vol. 3, a new aspect enters the scene. Inspired by childhood film memories from the 1970s including Tarkovsky‘s adaption of “Solaris” and “La Isla Misteriosa y el Capitán Nemo” based on Jules Verne‘s “The Mysterious Island”, the record shows Alva Noto‘s private side. With its very intimate atmosphere, it's a personal reflection of dreams, an imaginary journey through emotional landscapes or, as he himself puts it, a "cinematographic emotion of a soundtrack to a film that actually, does not exist in reality".
It's a study of the score to our favourite sci-fi film, beginning with an opening theme and subtly breaking into it's own components, chapters and moods. The feeling of expanse is almost palpable as the record sizzles and rumbles alongside expansive washes and tense, distant strings.
Carsten gives each track the space to breathe, with slow melodies, subtle progressions and a recognisable suspense. You sit watching his imaginary film-score anticipating the next move, as the rumbles re-appear; the ship passes camera, voices muted by nothing but black on tracks within Xerrox 2ndevol2nd.
Carsten dances with romance and the longing-stares out into the void with Xerrox Isola. The falling debris, the uncontrollable spinning and changing colors of the horizon are seen in Xerrox Solphaer. And the gentle introduction of a piano on Xerrox Spiegel, spell an ending of hope, or perhaps an introduction to Part 4, as Xerrox Exosphere slowly dissipates - a white dot slowly getting smaller and smaller, the pixels digress, finally blending with the millions of surrounding stars.
01 xerrox atmosphere 01 : 23
02 xerrox helm transphaser 06 : 45
03 xerrox 2ndevol 03 : 44
04 xerrox radieuse 05 : 60
05 xerrox 2ndevol2nd 05 : 05
06 xerrox isola 08 : 07
07 verrox solphaer 06 : 09
08 xerrox mesosphere 05 : 55
09 xerrox spark 06 : 10
10 xerrox spiegel 03 : 33
11 xerrox exosphere 03 : 48