As I mentioned recently in a review for Gui Boratto's Chromophobia album, it's sometimes difficult to distinguish the exact reasons why one minimal electronic release is better than another one, due to similarities in production and overall sound. Of course, in the end it usually comes down largely to personal perceptions that can't be explained, but other defining characteristics (because of the constructs of the music itself) are nearly always very, very subtle in and of themselves.
From Here We Go Sublime is yet another release on the Kompakt label that is nonetheless completely stunning, and for reasons mentioned above, it's difficult to explain why. The debut release from Sweden's Axel Willner, it drifts somewhere between minimal dance music and repetitive ambience, with beats that clomp along fast enough to fuel movement, but with enough ethereal qualities that you could simply put it on and trip out on the couch with it easily enough as well. Essentially, it's trance music of the highest quality, veering completely leftward of the cheeseball Global Underground crowd, and falling somewhere between the work of Kaito (also on the Kompakt label) and Wolfgang Voigt (aka Gas).
Willner actually has a few things in common with micro-sample sculptor Akufen, but instead of trying to wow you with his cutting ability and a frantic hand, he has pulled out hundreds of little heavily melodic snippets and stutters and scatters them across gorgeous expanses, building tracks slowly and letting them peak subtlety. The release opens with "Over The Ice," a single that was released last year to great acclaim, and for good reason. The piece is a perfect introduction to his sound, with micro samples of vocals that flutter over a relentless 4/4 thump, building basslines, and all kinds of subtle spacial effects.
With ten songs running nearly exactly an hour in length, it's also a remarkably consistent release. "Good Things End" is constructed as many other tracks on the release, with jittery vocals samples over a rambling, rolling beat and some sudden bursts of tweaked noise. Even though the aforementioned "Over The Ice" got his foot in the door, there are actually a slew of tracks on From Here We Go Sublime that are even better. "Everday" is a perfect example, again building with spiraling upward beats and slippery programming while bright, overlapping vocal samples push things higher and higher until the stunning ending.
At ten minutes "The Deal" is the longest track on the album, but doesn't feel a bit weary as it pushes forward with devastating low-end bass and sprays of overdriven noise. It's the closest thing to Gas (who was supposedly one of his biggest musical inspirations) on the release, and manages to sound both hazy and clear as day at the same time. An outstanding debut, From Here We Go Sublime is yet another excellent album from the Kompakt this label and a release that has gotten some of the most play of anything I've heard this year. If you like minimal electronic music at all, you must seek it out.