November 17, 2005

Bochum Welt "Elan"

Minimalist, simple melodies made by men with computers--that doesn’t always sound like the recipe for exciting music, does it? Generally, such records should rightly be met with a bit of cynicism; it’s rather easy for people with less-than-stellar talent to make “ambient sound-scapes” with the click of a mouse. Heck, I’ve done it, too—but I wouldn’t deign to consider releasing them to the general public. Rare is the truly wonderful computer-composed record. Élan, the latest release by Italy’s Bochum Welt, is one of them. For the past decade, Italian composer Gianluigi Di Costanzo has operated as Bochum Welch, releasing records that blended together hard dance rhythms and dark, brooding atmospherics.

Unlike previous records, Elan is a collaborative project with California-based Brian Salter. His input helps to make Elan sound a bit different than previous releases. It’s not hard-driving, and it’s not mellow pseudo-classical piano ballads; instead, it’s an appealing blend of gentle ambient passages, augmented by peaceful, tranquil beats. At times, the record sounds like the soundtrack, but not to an arty movie; instead, it occasionally recalls the sounds heard on a television police drama. Though comparisons to Eno and Aphex Twin are apt, it’s hard not to also think of Mike Post, either, especially on tracks like “Interlude (Diversion)” and “Joystick Coupler.” Other songs, like “Cinematronics,” “Vectors in Full Color,” and “Chelsea” are simply beautiful passages that are warm to the soul.

The only time Elan falters is the song “D.V.E.,” and not because the song is bad; its happy-go-lucky robotic-style dance-pop rhythm simply feels out of place. It’s too Costanzo and Salter’s credit that the two kept the record relatively brief, and their compositions concise. Tedium is often the Achilles’ heel of electronica, but the duo’s brevity makes the record even more enjoyable. It’s possible to listen to Elan without paying much attention to the passage of time, without being bored. Rarely do records of this style satisfy in such a manner.

Elan is a very pretty record. It’s one that will help you relax if you’re stressed, will lull you to sleep if you’re tired, and regardless of mindset, it’s never less than a pleasant listen.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website:
Label Website:

No comments: