Radio Blackout

In Berlin, techno hasn't been just a genre option in the club scene. It's been the city's modern folk music, a sonic reflection of the burg's constant, rhythmic drive to reinvent itself as the world's tech-culture capital. Over time, Berlin techno has also become an orthodoxy in need of a small crowd of punks to fuck with the program. Out of that crowd, drummer and producer Marco Haas may very well be the quirkiest and most fun. His recording alias, T.Raumschmiere, variously translates into "room smear," "dream smear," and "dream cops." The name of his independent label, Shitkatapult, colorfully denotes the metaphorical weapon he'd use against the music scene if given the chance. But beyond the wordplay and obnoxious concepts, Haas' diverse first album, Radio Blackout, finds him both skillfully abusing techno for the hell of it and manipulating it to some truly artful ends.

With its distorted synth bass lines growling simple melodies over primordial beats, the T.Raumschmiere brand of digital garage rock draws you in with a balls-out promise of something new, on which Haas capably delivers. Wasting no time, he opens the album with two propulsive 2/4 stompers, "I'm Not Deaf, I'm Ignoring You" and "Monstertruckdriver," the latter of which gets thematically reprised later as "The Game Is Not Over," with wonderfully sneering amphetamine vocals by neo-new wave ingénue Miss Kittin. He clutters Berlin techno's oft-sterile minimalist side with whirring broken-toy noises on "Someday," strangles some saxophones on top of the synth-poppy "Raubendisko," and even throws down some android hip hop beats behind brilliant female singer/MC Soom T on "A Million Brothers." Compositionally, Haas nails it on "Querstromzerspaner," a midtempo, almost arialike take on the monotonous proto-techno produced in Germany in the late '80s, and a prime example of the producer's elegantly unruly reaction to his city's techno rules.

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