It's obvious from the first moment that this was a fiercely personal work. Inspired by Peoplewatching, a book about body language by British zoologist Desmond Morris, each track is linked to a quote from the book and intended to explore a different set of emotions. In its eerie, echoing sparseness, How Do You Do feels like it was meant to soundtrack the synaptic happenings of Dygas' own brain as she explored each sentiment in the privacy of her studio.
Like the 30-or-so color photographs taken by Dygas, which accompany the CD, the album's tracks are understated, chemical-dipped and textural. They bear none of the urgency of her previous releases. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The tracks are so passive as to hardly be called wandering, offering the listener a series of artistic pauses and pregnant moments.
In her singles, you can hear the heavy influence of Villalobos, STL, Melchior, Cassy and Perlon's most far-out productions. How Do You Do is no exception. The record begins rather beautifully with "Note Note Note," a dreamy retrospective collage with a fogginess akin to releases from The Caretaker or To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie. In "Introduction," Dygas starts in with two of her favorite sounds, hissing and pianos—a pair that makes an appearance on almost every track thereafter. (Absent are the bongos for which she also declared her love in a 2007 RA interview.)
The album's strongest and most provocative cut, "Baton Signals," could have easily come from the same source material as Ostgut's Fünf compilation (for which Dygas composed the slightly dubbier "Quintet"). The dizzying metallic pans and almost nauseating tinny waves make the third track the most haunting, and addictive, of the set. A few of the tracks following are easily passed over—subdued studio jams that are not necessarily misplaced in the arc of the delicate story being told. But the pulse provided by the raw snare and piston hi-hats of "Veering Intention" make it a welcome addition in a landscape mostly devoid of the club mentality. Though this is the album's most dance floor-friendly addition, it's still no banger by any definition.
Despite its strong rhythm and fixating warbles, the album version of "Hidden from View" is, unfortunately for Dygas, far outshined by the nsi. mix found on the 12-inch which preceded it. There, Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer managed to execute more eloquently what Dygas aimed to achieve. In fact, the heavy influence of Freund's distinctive sound is impossible to ignore throughout the album. Dygas and Freund have worked together before: he played mixer-producer to her 2008 release on his own Non Standard Productions imprint, and again in 2009 he had a hand in "Frankly," a guitar-laden B-side groove released on Perlon. For her full-length, Freund makes an appearance in "You're In My Shoes," a scarce bit of aural tinkering which, alongside "Pg. 21," would have fit nicely on nsi.'s 2007 full length, Plays Non Standards.
Regardless of its derivative nature, though, there's much to be loved in How Do You Do. The intricacy of Dygas' sound is a welcome addition to the small pile of detail-oriented, truly minimalistic records from last year. In a music market saturated with pounding techno and groove-laden house, she brings to the table a meal far more subtle.
Tue / 11 Jan 2011
Sarah Joy Murray
01. Note Note Not
03. Baton Signals
04. Maybe May Be
05. You're In My Shoes
06. Pg 21
09. Veering Intention
10. Hidden From View
11. Janina Says ... Something