Chief engineer at Berlin's Manmade Mastering, Tim Xavier appeared on RA's latest critics roundtable Exchange to give a crash course in the abstruse process. It's an edifying discussion for sure, one from which I gleaned three fundamentals: mastering aims to (1) shore up a track's sound design, (2) balance its mix and (3) more or less ensure things don't "sound like shit." Not surprisingly, these are the very qualities that distinguish Xavier's own productions, in the particular the two finely crafted tracks comprising this EP.
Both sides are tightly focused affairs in possession of considerable drive—muscle too, but it's never too bulky or thick. On "Altostratus" snares and hi-hats are so compact they more or less live inside the gargantuan bassline. Really striking are the meticulously etched growls and howls that play demonic counterpoint while consuming one another in pulsating fashion. All in all, there's a subtly rocking feel to the groove that has me thinking of the more visceral moments to be found on Mark E's Stone Breaker album from last year.
The title track, in contrast, is a bit more lower chakra in nature, lunging more and more suggestively as it progresses. Its architecture is also more complex, vertical and spacious. Deep, reverb-stained voices (classic techno pitch-shift style) spit stuttering gobbledygook that Xavier gradually transforms into a kind of funky pointillism. Brittle, metallic chords try punching through; either they succeed or wind up melting into an electric blur that further accentuates the syncopation.
Buy Tim Xavier - Play On Words EP at
Tracklist: Tim Xavier - Play On Words EP A Altostratus
B Play On Words