The longtime anonymous techno producer shows another side of their sound.
It seems that after two decades, Pom Pom wants to say something different. A few days ago on SoundCloud, they posted what was billed as their first-ever DJ mix, a sprawling five-and-a-half-hour session that was listed as ambient but did feature some dark club beats. Their two recent appearances at Berghain were both in the Elektroakustischer Salon, the rarely-opened space where the club hosts ambient and experimental sets. "Another side of Pom Pom," read the one-line press release, and yes, there is little on Untitled ll that could be described as outright techno. What we get instead appears to be an exploration of the broader influences that have fuelled the Pom Pom project.
The uneasy mood on Untitled ll has shown up often in Pom Pom's music, but here it's as if they've traced it right back to the source and reimagined the original influence. There are skewed takes on post-punk, ambient and electro. The '80s looms large in the record's spirit and execution. Dark as it is, there are moments of beauty and a pleasing amount of variety. This all makes the album a good fit for A-TON, a label set up to release alternative and ambient sounds and present different sides of an established artist's musical personality.
Untitled ll has plenty going for it, but there are perhaps too few moments of awe, of raw inspiration, to fully elevate it. The tracks that come closest are the least typical of Pom Pom. "Untitled 7" and "Untitled 13" are both quietly stunning, with ongoing developments enriching the gentle atmospheres. Near the other end of Pom Pom's range, the two dance tracks are strong as well. "Untitled 8" evokes the warmer end of the Drexciya catalogue. "Untitled 11" has a little bleep techno swagger in its synths and drums. The remainder of the album is summarised by the midsection. "Untitled 9" features the biggest gated-reverb on its snare you'll hear this year, while "Untitled 10" runs with the agitated '80s mood at a much faster tempo, doubling its chubby kick drums to a gallop. Both are interesting, but not much more. Untitled ll never quite catches fire, then, but it's a welcome new dimension for Pom Pom's music. Coming out through an Ostgut Ton-related label, it's also likely to introduce more people to the singular wormhole that is their back catalogue.