Leaving the Frantic
here’s always been something a bit mysterious about the Dial label. Operating in deep obscurity to American audiences because of the language barrier, the poor distribution and the scarcity of releases period, the label has nonetheless put out a solid collection of work. It’s fifth CD, and third by label co-owner Peter Kersten, is the first for his Sten guise.
So, first the title: Leaving the Frantic presumably refers to frantic screams uttered at a DJ after playing just the right track at just the right moment in a set, a feeling that Kersten undoubtedly loved in his early days of clubbing in Hamburg. But what about the ride home from the club? Is there a middle ground between “Jack Your Body” and “Blue Room”? Kersten certainly tries to fashion it here, harkening in many ways back to a time when Artificial Intelligence was king.
Unlike his more abstract and, at times, hyper-romantic alias Lawrence, Leaving the Frantic trades more in the currency of IDM circa Seefeel and Polygon Window. In fact, it’s surprising that while coming at it from a German house background and with different software, the gap between Kersten and Mark Clifford or Richard D. James is relatively small. “Steamer” adds a stream of melody to its already chugging acidic bass that brings to mind the unearthly moments of Seefeel, while “From A Spire” sounds like a long lost cousin of “Quoth”. But aside from the more obvious debts, it’s little things on the record like the little raindrops of melody on “Task Force” or the fat acid bass of “Lash Out” that reinforce the idea that this merely what Warp Records already released in 1994.
There are moments in which Kersten breaks out of the tidy early IDM formula and crafts something altogether more intriguing. “Are You A Doctor” uses its final minutes to weave in a glorious snake-like melody and examine it from every possible angle. And album closer “Frost” sounds more like his Lawrence circa Absence of Blight, than anything else here, while the slight “Tea Towel” gets as disorienting as some of the work on Lawrence.
Perhaps these are signs of things to come? It’s hard to tell. What we do know is that, for what it is, Leaving the Frantic is Surfing on Sine Waves (2004 Microhouse Edition). Which, when you think about it, isn’t such a bad proposition after all.