At the center of this white noise stands Carsten Nicolai, AKA Alva Noto, and co-founder of Raster-Noton. Thanks to the label's recent string of top-shelf releases, I'm back in their quiet corner. Xerrox Vol. 2 picks up where Vol. 1 left off, this time pushing samples from Michael Nyman, Stephen O'Malley and Ryuichi Sakamoto through Noto's Xerrox software. "Phaser Acat 1" opens the album with the rush of grey fuzz that one expects (a look at the minimal cover art or the six-point font on his website shows that some things haven't changed), but after three minutes the digital grit gives way to music, an almost weightless blend of warm chords and thrumming digital tones. It's beautiful weather. Such stately orchestral maneuvers conjure thoughts of Gas, yet Noto turns Wolfgang Voigt's stormy weather inside out, opening up onto an arid landscape of endless horizon lines.
It's not all easygoing: The tension between the pretty chords and tough static in "Sora" gets uneasy and "Meta Phaser" gradually blooms into the audio equivalent of sandpaper before exiting with a ringing tone that leaves you feeling like you were socked in the head. Such calm-shattering moments remind you that this is indeed experimental audio, yet they also reflect an unfortunate impulse to keep things interesting. If you believe in this sound, Xerrox Vol. 2 is an essential release, and if you simply need a soundtrack for a dead February day or pacing the floors at three in the morning, you can't do much better.