Life Performance shows Belgian techno artist Peter Van Hoesen trying this approach. Recorded live at Tresor in July, on an all-hardware setup, the album is built on tracks written in a way that would let Van Hoesen improvise "freely." The album, which presumably underwent minimal editing and post-production, certainly bristles with raw warehouse energy. Whether by default or design, its sound is one of murky, distorted bass and mid-range, punctuated by crisp drums and clean, looping synth lines that emerge from that gorgeous gloom. In the clap-driven intensity of "Exacting Reward," "Deceive/ Perform" (its sequenced patterns like sped-up film of multiplying bacteria), or the shrill industrial brutality of "Causal Condition," you can easily imagine all this going down a storm at Tresor. But would you want to listen to it at 4 PM on a Wednesday?
From the electro-tinged "Hyperion" through to the splintering Autechre-isms of "Carbon," onto the punchy, rolling epiphany of "Ascending"—its central riff like a demented cathedral organ—Van Hoesen crunches through the gears of contemporary techno with aplomb. But Life Performance lacks any respite. Because it's a late night club performance, there are none of those beatless moments of quiet beauty and introspection that have made the year's best techno records, such as Marcel Fengler's Fokus, so great. Ultimately, in the cold light of day, it all begins to sound unrelentingly grey and one-paced. Can Van Hoesen rock a club? Clearly. Did we need a permanent record of that? Maybe not.