It’s not easy to carve out sculptured music from such humble material, and Carola hasn’t quite risen to the challenge – both records sounds too familiar and neither leads anywhere in particular. The beauty of minimal is how it can morph sounds in all directions at once without adhering to a true centre (I’m thinking of Troy Pierce’s Gone Astray EP or False’s 2007), but on both of these records the tracks move in straight lines rather than branch out.
Plus One is the more overtly minimal 12-inch, while Plus Two has a more straight up techno backbone, and ends up all the more interesting for it. On the first 12-inch, Jackpot is simply stilted – a monotonous metronome of a track that recalls some of Dominik Eulberg’s more recent plodding singles on Traum. ‘Swingback’ is more subtle and better for it. There is a rolling bassline and a bleepy melody that is trademark Plus 8/M_nus, but again it’s far too linear.
On the second 12-inch, ‘Contortionist’ again sounds like Eulberg, particularly its slightly detuned (but not terribly exhilarating) one note riff. These dubby underpinnings are good, however, and there is a sense of urgency that the other tracks often lack. ‘Sensation’ uses a heavier bass to try and barge onto the dancefloor, but in the end it is just not very inspiring, content to ride out its eight-minute duration with little more than a confident swagger.
Each EP also comes with a digital-only track. ‘Mini Monkey’ is the better of the two – crisp, taut and relatively banging, its impatience in the end becomes an asset. ‘Lost Connection’, however, is a prime example of minimal traveling in a straight line to nowhere.
Overall, we all know Carola can do better than this. Here it just seems that minimal is not very much indeed.