Modular goes mainstream – In the studio with Driftmachine


Driftmachine, Andreas Gerth and Florian Zimmer, is a duo that have taken modular into the mainstream. Although their music may not be for all they do an amazing job in tweaking their gear to do everything from techno-ish tracks to drone. They are also a highly productive duo who have released several albums over the past four years, and now they are live with their new album called Shunter. For the Berlin-based act, Shunter may be their most ambitious project to date.  Instantly recognizable, featuring their trademark Kosmische and Avant-garde sounds, it also presents a new journey into abstract and hallucinatory worlds. Filled with eerie textures, their electronic visions are darker and more vaporous than ever. LP limited edition with free download coupon.

In a recent interview they said the following on their new album:

It’s a complex and at times unsettling listen, what themes are you exploring?

When we started recording we actually had in mind to do a tape with mostly collage-like pieces. But, by accident Andreas and I watched “Rangierer” a documentary about shunters at work at the railway station of Dresden-Friedrichstadt / GDR – which was shot in 1984. Very intense pictures watching these men at work. And the mood of the movie grabbed us both and we kinda immediately went to the studio to record. But it’s not intended to be a score – more the sound for of dreamlike state after watching it.

Driftmachine also recently made an interesting appearance where we had the opportunity to watch the live in action. We will follow the duo using two systems running in sync to create multilayered compositions that straddle the line between techno and drone.

What attracts you to ambient/noise, non-traditional song structures?

It´s interesting and exciting to dive into the textures of sounds that can be field recordings or sounds we created with our instruments. To shape out hidden details and develop these over a certain time and then interact with these sounds again and finally creating a mood is one aspect we’re looking on.

The sound is multi-layered, how do you construct a new piece and how do you decide when it’s complete?

Mostly Andreas and I work at our studios preparing some sketches which we exchange. For “Shunter” we tried to do the least tracks possible so that the sounds have enough space! Some or Andreas sent each other maybe 4 Tracks and then each of us added a bit more and then we met in the studio together to arrange and add more – in case it was needed. We listen and when we both feel that the track is done – then it`s done

From their label we could learn the following on their latest endeavor:

Driftmachine’s fifth album (also the fifth one for Umor Rex) offers a new perspective on their ample sound spectrum and systemic narratives. Shunter overlaps and mutates their post-industrial-dub motives. It was conceived and produced in search of a very different kind of imagery, with sections of noise and field recordings intersecting with analogue sounds; a mixture of contrasted fragments, where the usual creative process of modular-synthesis leads Gerth and Zimmer to the discovery of a dark, hazy and diffused experience. There is a protean quality to the rhythmic elements, with tempos constantly contracting and expanding, a departure from the mono-beat-rhythms of Nocturnes and Colliding Contours. The first half of Shunter is made of four pieces named “Shift”; although individually separated, they are conceptually linked and can be understood as a sort of score. Imagine a late stage of the industrial revolution, with the interaction between heavy machinery and human beings. The second half of the album is not completely separated, but it has three other substantial melodic moments. Somewhere between the hauntological and the realms of archive-music, a huge range of subterranean beats and distinct patterns dotting the landscape of early electronic and post dub music.

Looking at their previous work like the 2014 release Nocturnes  one can easily spot how they evolved in their music creation.

“Getting deeper into the world of modular systems introduced us to new ways of creating music,” say Driftmachine. These systems give them the means to work new forms of music from the different genres they’re individually drawn to. The 2014 debut LP Nocturnes was inspired by the way they hear the music discussed in Alex Ross’s book The Rest Is Noise. The vinyl LP Colliding Contours sees Driftmachine drawing their musical geometries from dub, jazz and industrial techno lines.

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