Christian Fennesz has been creating his blend of glitched-out laptop recordings for some time now, but this is the first release of his that I've heard. From what I understand, his past work is definitely on the more harsh side of things, while this release finds him opening up into new, almost pop-like (for him at least) structures. Looking at the album title Endless Summer, one might think that it's all breezy trip through warm tones and electronics, but if you look at the pictures on the cover (nice sunsets run through digital filters that add scan-lines and other artifacts), it's more akin to the sound.
As a whole, the best way for me to describe Endless Summer is that it sounds like Fennesz sat down and wrote a nice 40 minute album full of pretty guitar melodies and warm organ sounds. Then, after he had that 40 minutes of nice music, he took it and chopped it all up and processed everything, leaving only faint hints at what he had before, but still retaining much of the original beauty (albeit, in a fractured sort of way).
The release sputters to a start with the first track "Made In Hongkong" as many different layers of digital clicks and drones pile on top of one another and form into something that's on the edge of having a melody without actually creating anything that you'd want to try to hum. The second, and album-titled track "Endless Summer" actually lets recognizable guitar elements seep through the electronic syrup, and it helps to make the track much more listenable. The three-part track has a short, pretty opening, before drifting into a longer second part in which the guitar melody sounds like it's being played far off underwater while pops of static and other elements gurgle over it. In the third part, the guitar takes the foreground while all kinds of sounds swirl in behind it.
Really, the key element in the release is texture, and Fennesz sure knows how to create interesting ones. "A Year In A Minute" ebbs along slowly with a thick and wavering drone until all kinds of blips and bleeps start entering into it and slowly overtake it. "Before I Leave" takes different tones from an organ and clips them into split second bits that skip, forming a slow-moving melody that will be hypnotic to some and drive everyone else almost completely batshit.
Even though the album only runs about 45 minutes long, by the time you reach the end of the epic final track "Happy Audio," (which builds ever-so-slowly into a wonderful close) it seems like more time has actually passed. Because almost every sound on the album has been heavily manipulated and/or layered in some way or another, the release makes for a thick audio soup for the ears. There are elements of Oval in the sound, as well as bits of contemporaries like Pluramon, but it's something else still altogether. It's definitely not a release that's on the easy listening side of things, but challenging your ears is good once in awhile.