A description of this very modern EP requires a word that was fashionable 40 years ago: mellow. Humeka's Temperate Climate, out on Argentinean netlabel Miniatura, might well be a collection of minimal and thus lead the listener to expect nightclub exertions, but in fact it's more suitable for relaxing and cooling down. In fact, were one being extremely pretentious, m'darlings, one might describe it as "high chill". (All rights reserved. Any unlicensed use of this term is liable to prosecution and the enforced middle parting of your hair.)
The kernel of the album is Humeka's four tracks, each representing one of the four seasons. It starts with Summer Ends, whose low-passed synth and gentle crackles and pops should alert you that this is indeed temperate minimal, as in mild-mannered and restrained. It's like supper jazz for electronica fans. Innumerable snippets of sound are scattered across all four of Humeka's tracks and panned through the full 180 degree aural field, though I'm sure that some sneak round the back of the head, too.
The first minute or so of Fall Arises toys with experimental electronica before easing into an 80s-type bass line and very modern clicks 'n' cuts. You'll hear an interesting bridge of rhythmical ambient before the track meanders back to relatively down-tempo electronica. A Late Spring is a fairly anaemic six minutes of dance that needs more variety to sustain my interest.
However, Sol Sistere, Humeka's last track of his four, has a bit more fibre to it. Check out the insistent sing-song background synths and a barely discernible pad for that lovely intellectual depth that minimal fans - well, the ones that are prone to self-deception - insist exists in their outwardly plain and simple snare/kick art form. (My blushes.) Its marvellously warm yet coldly digital synth riff, subdued percussion and scrambled background vocals will aid the contemplation of life's conundrums, namely: will our first contact with one of the countless civilisations residing amongst the universe's 100 billion galaxies be benign or bellicose, and does a cure for hangovers exist outside of the fantasy world of P.G. Wodehouse?
Cuddly, isn't it? It's got that indefinable "something" that grabs the ear and won't let go.
doesn't stop there. Humeka (a Frenchman – there goes the
neighbourhood) has recruited some minimal netlabel gangsters
to add mixes, namely Christian Walt, co-founder of Interdisco; Tilman
(Klamauk), choenyi (Stereo-Type,
Random Access, Kreislauf, Miniatura); Sven Laux (everything, but
especially Tisch, Insectorama, Tropic, Meerestief, MV, Archipel,
Miniatura, Mischievous); Grifin (Silicate) and our old friend
Keinzweiter (spontanMusik), who got subpoenaed with a CTW
review a few months ago. You have my permission to explore those links and see how deep the netlabel rabbithole goes.
These capocannonieri have indulged themselves, meaning that the mixes are fine examples of minimal-techno but completely oblivious to CTW's world-famous dictum re. overlong dance tracks. It falls to me to convert the First Law of Dance Music into algebraic form, where y = dance track and x = bliss.
y - 0.333r = x
Despite this, there's enough good stuff here to get you through the working week. There are no less than three mixes of Summer Ends: Christian Walt adds a subtle bass that pulses very nicely under Roll-Royce glitches; Tilman's mix features some nicely treated acoustic percussion, and Keinzweiter just can't help adding some funky global warming and his trademark dusty vibe to Humeka's calm essay. All three up the tempo and aggression, though nothing that shakes the leaves from the trees.
choenyi Orangophilic remix of Fall
the minimal tag and threatens to be a boring house-ish workout, but
redeems itself by shoving pops, burps and clanging percussion at your
ears, which will flex and warp to the hypnotic, driving rhythm. Sven
Laux's reworking of A
Late Spring improves
on the original; the swelling synths remind me strongly of the
Y Volcanes by
Alta Infidelidad. A funky bassline that's a cross between a clavier
and a slap bass injects some adrenalin into Grifin's mix of Sol
Sister, but it's one of those mixes that renders the original
unrecognisable and replaces it with a serviceable dance track...which, on reflection, is growing on me.
Nearly every synthesiser on this album sounds low-passed, if not muffled, providing a subdued bed of sound for the minimalist percussion that dominate the higher frequencies.* It's the most well-mannered album I've heard in a while, only grabbing your interest when you decide to give it. All in all, Temperate Climate is one of the many jewels on display in the Creative Commons shop window. I suggest you throw a brick through that window, but first make sure you wrap a “Thank you, Humeka and his cronies” email around it.
*I have my thumbs in my waistcoat pockets and am projecting confidence in my opinions. We both know I'm bluffing.