Ellen Allien is a brand that we have come to trust in a very specific way—her titanic BPitch Control records, her collabos with Apparat—each of her releases is a hallmark by which other comparable recordings are judged (and therefore hardly ever vice versa). So when she turns a corner, what do we say, exactly?
On Dust, we find our berlinette greatly defrosted from the icy postapocalyptic machinations of Sool, exhibiting an emotional openness that recalls the warmer moments on Orchestra of Bubbles, albeit with much gentler pluck-n-click percussion work. This is a summer record. Tracks like "The Sun The Rain" and "My Tree" juxtapose a droning low end with a cheerful clean guitar. Allien's ethereally accented voice provides the usual ghost in the machine while sunny chord progressions via pad and hornsynths lift the tunes out of monotony.
Highlight "You" plays almost like a formulaic rock track—a healthy fuzzy bassline, mashy strumming and a clockwork 4/4 structure lend it probably to stateside airplay. And with Fever Ray firmly in our minds, we know that weird distorted foreign girlvox isn't a straight turnoff. We even find chillwave dance making an appearance on "Ever." Crystalline melodies and a sleepily funky bass throb ensure this simple single is as head-clearing and addictive as huffing pure oxygen. "Huibuh," a dubby tropical track, finds the likeability sweetspot as Allien intones "What can we do?" over a simple earworming music box melody. It's the sort of a track you would want to magically drip out of the crackling tree-mounted speakers on some beachfront bar on Koh Phi Phi. (Or perhaps Bar 25.)
Not all ideas are as fully fleshed or compelling. "Dream" takes a silly ascending bass scale and peppers it with some snappy snares…and then lets it run for five minutes. Occasional atmospherics and vocal snippets enter and dissolve, but basically, this is your standard go-nowhere cut.
If Berlinette is the sound of an electrified Europescape in the last nights before the end and Sool is the breathy muttering of runtimes in the aftermath of a post-human world, then Dust is the first inkling of a new primitive hunter-gatherer civilization of sentient androids that just sort of want to chill and drink daiquiris. Despite a few sonically unimaginative moments, I for one am definitely down to hang out and watch the sun rise over the healing planet.
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Tracklist: Ellen Allien - Dust 01. Our Utopie
02. Flashy Flashy
03. My Tree
04. Sun The Rain
05. Should We Go Home