Black to Comm – Alphabet 1968 (Type) LP
Black to Comm is the brainchild of one Marc Richter – not to be confused with eclecticist composer Max Richter. This Richter is also the fellow behind Hamburg’s excellent Dekorder label, which has put out releases by a number of very notable experimental/electronic artists including Stephan Mathieu and Xela – aka Type label boss John Twells. Alphabet 1968 sees Twells returning the favour, releasing Richter’s latest opus on vinyl and CD.
Suspicions that this is just another fly-by-night experimental music release should be put aside. Alphabet 1968 has already garnered praise from prominent music critics not normally known for an interest in digital electronica – notably, Mark K-Punk and Sasha Frere-Jones.
This is understandable as Alphabet 1968 is an instantly captivating album, which gives the immediate impression of being more dramatically structured than the vast majority of abstract electronica. Richter is clearly a master of creating sonic dioramas in which sample loops revolve slowly, casting strange reflections off each other.
The nine sonic miniatures and single long-form piece on this album form an extremely satisfying whole. Nothing feels randomly patched together or purposeless – everything arrives at a certain time and behaves a certain way for a very specific reason.
Overall, the mood this fastidious approach creates is rather menacing. But Alphabet 1968 is not a generically “dark” piece of work. There’s no excess of murky reverb or low-end sludge to cheapen the mood here. The sound is rich, full and crystal clear. And tracks like “Traum GmbH” are hardly lacking in simple melodic or harmonic beauty.
While this album is very much in a world of its own, comparisons are still reasonably easy to make. The single long piece is an obvious tribute to Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas project, right down to the title – “Forst”. Elsewhere, the creaking loops of Colleen and the hauntological juxtapositions of The Focus Group are conjured.
Type Records puts out a lot of decent stuff but this is something else altogether. Like As Good as Gone by Nudge, Alphabet 1968 is an unassuming record that – in it’s own quiet way – has the makings of a future classic. You are strongly advised to be an early adopter and buy it at Insound.