Black Merlin and Gordon Pohl look to industrial and dub techno on their latest collaboration.
Karamika's debut brought to mind the early analogue explorations of Cluster and John Carpenter. While the title 2.0 suggests refinement versus an overhaul, Karamika is a slightly different beast this time around, nudging into industrial and dub techno. Despite that harder sound, at times they buff away too much of their edge. Using low-key white-noise washes and staticky crackle as pacemakers, "2.2" moves slowly yet never achieves lift-off. The same goes for "2.5," which uses bubbling arpeggios and a parquet-floor squeak as its rhythmic foundation, but seems to just hang in space.
Steam-hiss and dread-inducing buzz makes "2.3" a standout. It brings to mind early Pan Sonic, right down to its white-noise payoff. Karamika is just as effective with hushed sounds. "2.6" uses a wordless coo to create something wholly intoxicating, the blend of the ethereal and metallic reminiscent of Andy Stott's Too Many Voices. It's a track to get completely lost in. But on the album's opener, "2.1," another female vocal is used to less impressive effect. Two words get intoned and repeated until they seem to drill into your head for over six minutes without much relief or development.
That's the paradox of 2.0: the percussion feels torpid, while the ambient pieces are the most moving. Despite Karamika's range, 2.0 works better as collection of DJ tools than an immersive home listen.