It was on a beach in 1946 that French artist Yves Klein came up with his concept of "architecture of air": the notion of creating art from the natural elements. And it's on another beach 65 years later that we find Rod Modell—a man who talks of being heavily influenced by visual art—collecting samples for his second solo DeepChord album, Sommer. Indeed, you could see Modell as Klein's musical descendant, his previous Echospace and DeepChord albums like 2010's Liumin and 2011's Hash-Bar Loops using field recordings made in Tokyo and Amsterdam respectively as the foundations for towers of dub.
Yet the fact that Modell has sampled waves, bongos and wind chimes rather than urban bustle here doesn't mean Sommer is Café Del Mar-style chill-out: this is still music more for moonwalking than skinny dipping. But while the shifting sounds in "Spring Mist" have the same disorientating qualities as Hash-Bar Loops, Sommer does feel like a breath of fresh air blowing away some of that album's heavier stoned atmospheres. Opener "Glow" sounds like the sun rising over the horizon, and while the rhythms of "Aquatic" might still owe a debt to Modell's beloved Maurizio, they ripple with more of a light skank than a dark plod. "Aeronautics" and "Wind Farm," meanwhile, take you high into the atmosphere on thermals of ambient sound.
What's further away than ever on Sommer are the Basic Channel comparisons. Sure, the aforementioned "Aquatic" and "Flow Induced Vibrations" might use hollow reggae and swathes of reverb, but elsewhere Modell stretches beyond the dub techno rhythms he's previously operated within and which have occasionally weighed him down; the tropical techno beat of "Fourier" wouldn't sound amiss on a Cadenza release, for example. This makes Sommer Modell's most fluid DeepChord album yet; not just in the way tracks flow together but also in the associations it brings to mind. Biosphere's Arctic electronica infuses "Cruising Towards Dawn" for example, yet in a more lateral sense the way the album seems to glimmer has a similar prismatic feel to Yppah's recent Eighty One album—another record inspired by the sea. "Benetau" and "Wind Farm" evoke the same humid rainforests as the beatless interludes on Lone's Galaxy Garden. To say that Sommer is a piece of sonic architecture of which Klein himself would be proud is more than just hot air.
Tracklist: DeepChord - Sommer 01. Glow
03. Cruising Towards Dawn
04. The Universe as a Hologram
08. Flow-Induced Vibrations
09. Spring Mist
13. Wind Farm