Dictaphone - Vertigo II
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Vertigo II

Vertigo II is the second album from German duo of Oliver Doerell and Roger Doring. Mixing ambient jazz with electronic programming, field recordings and some lo-fi scrabblings, the duo seems to nicely summon up the smokey corners of sleeping cities with their reed-laced meanderings.

"Rising Minimal" opens the release, and has all of the aforementioned components in place as clumsy, almost insect-like micro beats shuffle to and fro in the background while electronic pings flutter and a saxophone alternately squeaks and moans. "K1" brings a bit more of a rhythmic element into the proceedings, and it's a welcome change as it takes on a smooth sort of Parisian shuffle that recalls the work of Jan Jelinek.

The group doesn't groove for too long, though, and "Jarszewko" falls into pieces of radio static, swooping strings that sound like pieces of an Angelo Badalamenti score, and chirping crickets. Even though their eerie soundscapes could easily slip off into overly self-serious territory, the duo manage to proceed with a light touch and even a playful sense of humor at times. Most noticeably is on "The Frame (1-94-1)," where they mix a recording of some billiards players alongside their jazzy leanings.

Although the group is certainly good at creating a mood (the excellent "The Last Song" oozes with backwards loops, clicky programming and some warm clarinet) and rolling with it, their somewhat unfocused tracks start to bleed together after awhile because of the lack of real dynamics. That said, the reed instrumentation helps give the album a nice human touch and set Dictaphone apart from everyone else doing this sort of thing. It's not quite essential, but it's very nice.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2006-03-23 20:00:56