1994 - a great year for techno and electronica saw the release of Germ's debut album on GPR. Although this is slightly primitive compared to weird masterpieces such as The Black Chair that Tim Wright would subsequently release, it easily matches his contemporaries, and is still sufficiently weird and freaky to be enjoyable 15 years later. The sounds palette is bleepy and squelchy, with incisive percussion; the kick drum often being a fairly hard techno one, as opposed to the more metallic, crunchy beats being used by a lot of electronica at the time. Co-engineered with John Dalby, it is obvious that there are a couple of studio whizz-kids at work: all the weirdest noises have been coaxed out of whatever keyboards or VSTs they had, and it’s really well edited and mixed. There is an otherworldly sense of menace to some of this stuff – it can be quite dark, and tracks like ‘Ssong’ prefigure Wright’s later, weirder creations, with it’s queasy and disembodied warbling. This abstraction is nicely balanced with some pretty rocking tracks – I used to mix with ‘Blib’ all the time, its mish-mash of brittle syncopated bleeps, wobbling bass and euphorically thrashing synths is very groovy indeed. Elsewhere there is a bit more harshness: closer ‘Gun(Gone)’ has some nasty panning action and dive bombing rave waves. The moody sonar electronica of ‘Sap’ heads almost to gabba speed as the beats are doubled up, and there are disturbing, almost industrial details throughout the album.
I think this streak of darkness, along with the very trippy sound palette, keeps this album still sounding pretty strong and fresh today.
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