After the release of Endless Summer and Venice, Christian Fennesz seemed to be one of those artists that was name-dropped and referenced constantly as an innovator and revolutionary artist in his field. Other than some remixes, though, he pretty much disappeared until his collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto on last years Sala Santa Cecilia EP and this years follow-up of Cendre. In the meantime, Touch has gotten into the reissue act, first with his aforementioned Endless Summer release, and now with his debut solo album Hotel Paral.lel.
I will admit that I've always found Fennesz to be a bit overrated as a musician, although Endless Summer has in particular aged really well. If you haven't heard this debut release, you might be in for a bit of a surprise given his later work. It at the same time contains some of his most difficult and most mainstream-sounding work to date. It's noisy as hell, but also contains what's some of his most rhythmic work ever.
"Sz" and "Nebenraum" open the release, and are slightly closer to his more modern work, as high-pitched rips of feedback sheer through massive slabs of droning noise on the former, while filtered voices and piano comprise the quieter latter track. "Blok M" begins the surprises, as deconstructed techno beats slathered in feedback crunch through sparse drones. Of course, then "Santora" and "Dheli Plaza" follow it and come right back with gut-crunching ripples of deep electronics and overdriven noise while "Super Feedbacker" sounds like the sort of chin-stroking track expressly written to blow out subwoofers.
Along the way are two of Fennesz's best tracks to date, though. "Fa" might very well top my list of favorites, as a simple, heat-blistered 4/4 beat stomps through the middle of overlapping layers of compressed noise that's both heavy and stunningly gorgeous. Meanwhile, "Traxdata" introduces his skipping-CD style and blends together flickering tones with crushed beats and barely-supressed buzzing. With the bonus track "5" and an excellent video for the track "Aus," the reissue is worth hunting down if you're a completist. It doesn't reach quite the heights of Endless Summer, but it's a solid debut that almost makes you wish he'd veer back towards including more rhythmic elements in his work again.