German microhouse producer Christian Löffler once said in an interview that techno and house could offer more than just the incentive to dance. If his last album A Forest wasn’t enough to prove it, his new album, Young Alaska, should finish the job. It’s a continuation of his mission to use the hypnotism of those genres for serene introspection, rather than getting the dancefloor shaking.
Utilizing techno for intimacy can always pose a challenge. This is highly technological music that serves to celebrate technology itself–its very DNA is rooted in post-industrialism and detachment from humanity, with both the origin of techno and the evolution into minimal techno occurring in cities. Kompakt, the definitive minimal techno label, was formed at a record store in Cologne, one of the largest cities in Germany.
But if the Burial-like swirling moans of Notes don’t wreck your heart, then the piano balladry of Veiled Grey or Alpine Sketch will. They feel more like closers to a Coldplay album than anything even remotely tech-related.
This is because Löffler makes such an effort to integrate natural elements into his sound. As someone who paints and does photography as much as he makes music, he imagines his landscapes first, then lets the sounds and emotions evolve from there. Sometimes he samples acoustic string instruments or live percussion to recreate his environment. The reverb seems born from cold Alaskan air; the percussion resembles boots slogging through snow and stepping on tree branches; snowflake collisions produce the sounds of bells, and crackling frost resonates from the windows of abandoned cabins.
Löffler’s obsession with nature knows no bounds. His last album was made entirely during an isolated stay at a cabin in the woods. The name of the record label he co-founded, Ki, is Japanese for tree. The album covers he designs for himself always feature forest-related imagery, and if you follow his Facebook, you’ll find him periodically posting pictures of fog, trees, or plants. Take a look at his music video for All Comes–note how irrelevant the subject is. You never learn his identity and it doesn’t matter. The desolate, white tundra is the true focus of the piece.
The overall package proves quite effective at bringing the listener to a Zen state of mind. When you watch Löffler’s excellent set at The Boiler Room, you see people grooving, but they don’t dance with each other or even talk very much. They seem transfixed, lost in whatever inner space they created when their middle school counselors asked them to imagine a happy place they could return to when things got too stressful. A beach in the sunset or a meadow at dawn. A serene inner world. Mission accomplished.
You can grab Young Alaska on Beatport and enter your own happy place.