April 23, 2009

Bochum Welt – R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) (2008, Rephlex)

I learned a lot about ‘90s-era electronic music from collecting and studying Aphex Twin and the many labels he released through and artists he collaborated with, which is often how my interests move from one artist to another. Aphex Twin’s own Rephlex Records label had already put out over 50 releases by the time I had heard of them in the late ‘90s, and today they are right on the verge of breaking the 200th release mark. Along with 12”s by Mike Paradinas, owner of Planet Mu Records, Luke Vibert, Cylob and DMX Krew, some of the best early Rephlex releases were by Gianluigi Di Costanzo, aka Bochum Welt. Gianluigi was a collector of vintage analog synthesizers, which he programmed to create all of the sounds on his tracks from scratch. The result is perky, uptempo electronic music in an IDM style (“Intelligent Dance Music” was a frequently used ‘90s term for Aphex Twin’s style of music; beat-oriented but not necessarily danceable). The warm, sweeping tones and bleeps seem to embody and express the essence of what musician’s love about old analog synthesizer sounds. There is a classic, vintage, yet timeless sound to the production, reminiscent of “older” 70’s and ‘80s synth artists like Kraftwerk yet undeniably futuristic. Tracks are generally short but sweet, some focusing on distorted percussive drum machine jams, others an arrangement of buzzy synth strings and melodic leads. Sort of like music for imaginary ‘80s video games. Three of Bochum Welt’s early Rephlex EPs have recently been re-released together with a new album on a 2CD set under the title “R.O.B.”, a reference to Nintendo’s commercially unsuccessful yet loveable Robotic Operating Buddy. The “Martians and Spaceships” album on Fuzzybox from 1999 is also a long-time favorite.