Ellen Allien’s Dust betokens a new decade with a telling account of the artist’s creative evolution. Counting Orchestra of Bubbles--her acclaimed 2006 collaboration with compatriot German musician Apparat--this latest album marks her sixth. That’s plenty of experience, especially if you’re as much prone to flirting with experimentation as Allien is. Simply put, this creature fearlessly embraces the intricacies of sound.
Neither new to nor afraid of her artistic calling, Allien’s greatest strength is, in fact, her ability to master sounds. Urban-spawned noise and atmospherics have been known to naturally coalesce under the guidance of the sovereign; a legion of notes bombards writhing cadence to create a fearless balance between organic and synthetic, ripping through rising crescendos and hovering a stone’s throw from ethereal interludes that mercilessly pull at your organs.
The new era in Allienism not only resonates a new album, but reintroduces another side; in 2006, the owner of the BPitch Control label broke through a creative cocoon, delving into the world of fashion with her very own clothing line in tow. Gleaning inspiration from her travels, Allien’s intuitive materials infuse street living with music and art. It’s that same penchant for mixing things up in a brilliantly bold yet disarming way--not at all dissimilar to her latest album.
Dust opens a new chapter for the introspective musician using familiar contents. "Ever," although not the opening track, puts classic Ellen Allien front and center, with its glockenspiel and plucked synth layered amidst a staccato of sampled vocals. The dark, disco-inspired "Flashy Flashy" surfaces from a stylishly decadent underworld, while "Sun the Rain" imagines a synth-pop guitar riff in a distant space where memories timidly fondle heartstrings (and, quite surprisingly, Auto-Tune calms a positive vibe here). Meanwhile, "Dream" could very well be the first tribal track for computers, employing old school accents amidst new technology, and piling ambient phase shifts atop one another in a frantic run for the finish line.
And once "Schlumi" settles in for the outro, we’re reminded of our undying thirst for Ellen Allien, forever jaded by the melodic comfort only an angel could afford.
Label: BPitch Control. Release Date: May 25, 2010. List Price: $16.98
by Ellen Allien