ubject Carrier acts as the debut artist album for Düsseldorf native Oliver Hacke as well as Cologne’s venerable Trapez label. Trapez has built its reputation on deep, dubby microhouse excursions which are just as likely to snarl around the dance floor as they are to massage your brain in the bedroom. With a string of singles for Trapez, Background, and Traum behind him, as well as notable remixes for Akufen and Process, Hacke’s album functions to show the strains of emotion that can be reached even in the most relaxing and insular of environments.
The nucleus of Subject Carrier is a collection of pensive melodies and lush keyboard washes backed by crackling minimal rhythms, yet as we zoom out to focus on the full picture, we find all nine of these untitled tracks to be teeming with cavernous splashes of sound. There is certainly an abundance of gurgling glitches, abounding synths, panned toms, and mini hits of acid to be found here. While the album is indeed plump and robust (and even aggressive on second and fifth tracks), it is fractured by its own hands and minimal methods. See how the fourth track seems to be cruising along on a swirling, melodic Basic Channel groove only to eventually be hamstrung by miniscule instants of silence, instants that dramatize and alter the contour of the melodies.
It is these miniature moments of what are often secondary elements that can shift the emotive context of Subject Carrier. For the seventh track, Hacke lets his emotional guard down and unleashes us down a bottomless chasm of choral drones that seem to envelope us more the further we go down. We are satisfied by this premise, yet the piece is abruptly propelled forward by an abstract disco bassline, and we are suddenly in tearjerker territory. It’s as if the bassline was waiting for someone or something to reach this depth so it can finally share with us all of its muted joy. These subtle differences between the soothing transparency of dub and the vivid eruption of emotion are something that Hacke plays with throughout the album.
This is not a tumultuous album though, as Oliver, like many of his other microhouse contemporaries, often lets his grooves slide away upon their basic arrangements. The final track on the album (also known as “12:31” from Hacke’s “Polar” single) juxtaposes the Akufen’s hiccup-house with a hidden motorik synth line, reminiscent of a chugging locomotive passing by in slow motion. However, there is no friction between these ingredients, as nearly eleven minutes glide by without any dramatic builds or lulls (save for a little lost melody that turns up in the 7th minute). Nevertheless, as a gentle rinse out for one’s mind, it’s hard to beat.
While the minimal scene in Germany is as crowded as ever at the moment, Subject Carrier still holds its distinctive own. The leaks of emotion and general accessibility on each track show more of an openness to extend beyond the circle of microhouse listeners. Yet the disc is as good of a summation of the Trapez sound circa 2004 as any of the mixes done by Triple R, and shows itself to be one of the more enjoyable house full-lengths of the year.