Berlin-based artist Matthias Grübel has released a couple albums on CDR thusfar, but Putting Holes Into October Skies finds him sliding his downcast electronic pop songs out into the world in a proper debut on the Quartermass label. Somehow pulling together equal parts indie slow core and clicks and cuts programming, the bleak album mixes broken and shattered rhythms with soft vocals and some understated but potent guitar work.
"Warm From The Inside" opens the release and gives a good idea of what to expect as found sound percussion clatters and skids while minor-key guitar strums along wearily and cuts completely out in places, leaving uneasy moments of silence. "Slowdown" is slightly less claustrophobic, but even it has sort of a queasy feel as quick panning guitar notes swarm from left to right while watery programming provides some sparse punctuations as weary vocals seem like they're going to give out at any point. "Melting The Ice" takes an even more extreme route, turning a guitar melody into a white-hot blister of sound that offsets a warmer backdrop and filtered vocals.
There are places where the release moves towards a slightly more pop feel, and "The Great Big Hole In The Sky" is one of the best examples (and one of the best tracks on the disc) as it skids along with odd percussive samples and warm programming while the vocal melodies from Grübel are injected with a bit more emotion. Coming across like a soundtrack to an absolutely bleak fall or winter day, Phon°noir definitely isn't typical electronic pop, and the oft-fragile disc injects some new life into the genre with a unique style. If you liked the lo-fi bedroom work of Khonnor or even the slightly dour electronic pop of Hood, this melancholic disc will probably find a home in your stereo on rainy days this spring.