The first disc here, The Transitory State, is a collection of works released over the past three years, but the lack of novelties is made up for by the fact that, put together in sequence, this album sounds wonderful. Goldmann's strength is partly in his sense of adventure, and every track follows its own path and logic, each feeling like a trip into the unknown.
Opener "Lunatic Fringe" sets a truly unsettling "Dies irae" choral work against malevolent acid keyboard lines for a totally arresting sound. "Prefecture" is perkier, but equally portentous; screams and coos ring out over tolling bells, heightening the sense of drama that pervades The Transitory State. "Radiant Grace" heralds a change of pace; a guitar riff slowly builds into a track that's expansive without being ostentatious.
Then there's "Aurora," a relatively straightforward house track that later turns into a beatless, rudderless soup—a moment that feels like Goldmann casting off his stylistic hooks, making a break from the 4/4 form, until…we’re into "Sleepy Hollow," which continues to sound jaw-dropping, despite having been heard so much over the past couple of years. Its perfect balance between driving rhythm and delicate tones, a gorgeous fluid bassline and glistening synths, still strikes a chord.
The pacy "Phraselab" leads into "Beluga," which has an exquisite sense of tension building, lifting and building once again, the two sensations more or less becoming one in those statically pulsing keyboard notes and clanging electronic bells. Time seems to distort as the teasing synths loop back over one another ominously. "The Bribe" takes up where "Sleepy Hollow" left off; and "Blood" is the essence of high-speed, tense drama. And low-speed closer, "Last Wave," sounds both methodical and threatening, sedate and vicious.
Which leads us to second CD, Voices of the Dead, which inhabits an odd twilight world of static tones and electroacoustic hums, a stripped-down soundscape of evil resonance; a kind of bare-bones ambient music. I wouldn't call it over-ambitious; on its own terms it's a success, an accomplished foray into little-explored sounds. In all honesty, I can’t imagine many people I know wanting to listen to this; I haven't learnt to love it yet. Nonetheless, I do find it hard to switch off once it's started.
The scale of this project might seem pompous to some, but Goldmann comes out of it well—his ambition is justified by the quality of the music. And whatever you think of the second disc here (and it seems guaranteed to split people down the middle), the first is doubtless one of the best house albums released this year.
Sun / 14 Sep 2008
The Transitory State
01. Lunatic Fringe
03. Radiant Grace
05. Sleepy Hollow
08. The Bribe
10. Last Wave
Voices Of The Dead
01. Slit Trench
04. End Of The Road
07. Markers Of The Black Lit Path
08. Ptolemaic Drift