Review: Redshape - A Sole Game
Released through Modeselektor’s Monkeytown Records, Redshape’s latest release, ‘A Sole Game’ sees the until recently-anonymous producer turn down a heavily cinematic route, painting the picture of a gritty dystopia, plagued by melancholy, grief and despair. A conceptual album as much as it is a dance record, the Berlin based musician takes full advantage of the left field, polished musical pioneering of Berlin, and combines it with the dark, futuristic ambience of Detroit techno to create an album seeping with self-reflection, anxiety, compulsion and fear.
First emerging in 2006, Redshape – recently revealed as Sebastian Kramer – made a name for himself through his rough take on the electronic sound of late 80’s Detroit. Many call him the second coming of Carl Craig because of his spacey, analogue synths and driving, hypnotic beats. Able to keep himself anonymous until recently, Redshape has stated that the simple red mask “symbolises the ‘unknown’ space around or behind the music scene,” and that it “gives a basic grounding to all the tracks that [he does].”
The historical anonymity had absolutely bolstered Redshape’s ability to communicate his imagination of a dangerous, horrific future. Redshape prefers to hide in the murky depths of his releases, letting the music speak for itself. This allows your mind to run wild with theatrical imagery to accompany the album. Such as a soundtrack to a bloody, uneasy, R-rated Tron sequel, Orwellian Metropolis re-edit, or Blade Runner score, rather than a textbook club record. It truly is a more cohesive, layered, full-bodied record, suited for both club play and home listening.
Despite the fictional ideas of his record, Kramer ensures his futuristic fantasy stays grounded and real, scattering cuts of everyday sounds such as rainfall, crows cawing, distorted white noise-covered radio announcements, and the sounds of bustling city streets. These beg the question: is this the black future that Redshape is imitating, or rather a gloomy take on the world of today? Such a perspective is strengthened by the fact that the album is made predominantly with analogue synths and drum machines. Digital sound has been kept to a bare minimum and this stark divergence is in a way ironic – using instruments of the past to create the sound of the future.
Nonetheless, ‘A Sole Game’ doesn’t completely consist of despair and misery; there is a certain elegance to the compelling, entrancing compositions of the tracks, crafted spellbindingly with its mesmerising rhythm. Some, like ‘Spark’ and ‘Day Out’ rely on much brighter sounds that are strategically placed so as to not scare the listeners away a few tracks in.
The most energetic track on the cut, ‘Pursuit’ is one of the finest examples of Redshape’s brand of techno; as fearful and apprehensive as it is anxious and energetic, it is a track only reserved for the heaviest of late-night clubs, promising to sway an audience with its brutal, captivating bassline. This is almost instantly contrasted by the dreamy ‘Radio Drama’, where the lead synths bounce around the track as if they are imitating radio waves bouncing off dusky, abandoned buildings in this technologically-driven future.
The highlights, however, are the last few cuts on the record, the first being ‘November Island’: a track where the psychedelic, hypnotising synthesizers run freely over the tribal yet mechanical drum patterns. The climax is an ear-piercing tone that takes you above the clouds, almost showing you that there is in fact a warm light above this terrible, murky, industrial world, before driving you straight back into the earth with the clean, simple, bewitching bassline.
The closing track, the 7-minute garage epic ‘Future Shape’ is a hazy, uneasy, but colourful track that would fit in perfectly alongside any Burial release. The droning bass bounces around the steady, enchanting drum beats and ducks under the occasional unsettling scream. The track encompasses everything Redshape stands for, bottling up the imaginary shadows and evils that had been oozing out over the 50-minute running length, and closing it with one simple quote, spoken softly by an unfazed female voice.
“they dug everything out of the earth, piled it on top of themselves”
Written by: Hamish Williams