Central to dance music since the early days of Chicago, pitch-bending is something the Bulgarian-born Goldmann wants to take to the next level. He wants to shake off the entire Western tonal schema and, instead, use tunings and folk music-inspired hooks, that, as the press sheet has it, have been, "tried and tested for centuries from Sofia to Bandung." Philosophically, Goldmann is harking back to that golden moment of possibility that existed, circa 2007, in the last days of "minimal," when tracks like Villalobos's "Fizheuer Zieheuer" and Roland Appel's "Dark Soldier" were enthusiastically tearing up the rulebook.
Trouble is, 17:50 doesn't sound that radical. "Carrion Crow"'s Eastern European melody is unusually perky, but in its big, bustling, puppyish way, it also sounds like it could have come from a Balkan beats compilation ten years ago. Like its other elements (dissonant bursts of ambient noise, slap-bass), it all sounds rather commonplace. No samples have been used here. Instead, Goldmann created everything from scratch, on hardware. But does that matter? Michel Cleis's "La Mezcla" may have been accused (perhaps, justifiably) of cultural imperialism, but, frankly, that simple, quantized track sounded exhilarating. This rarely does.
It has its moments. All whirring souk melody and fragmentary plucked strings, "Manila Grind" is cute. "Rigid Chain" and "Empty Suit," the latter boosted by distorted rave-bass patterns that evoke Altern 8, would snap any dance floor into life. Yet they sound novel, not new. In recent years, house and techno has exhausted its "ethnic" sample library. Consequently, Western ears are unlikely find these strange tunings or folk riffs that surprising. Increasingly, they are part of our collective sound culture, which is why the synthetic bleeps that underpin "Dead Cat Bounce" sound simply cheap, not exotic.