Available on: Ominira LP

Unexpected, noisy and rampant; Gunnar Wendel (a.k.a. German producer Kassem Mosse) dons a new guise as The Siege Of Troy to explore a bout of ‘jacknoise’ via an eponymous debut on both cassette and 7” vinyl. Seizing upon the paranoid streak that provides his Kassem Mosse productions with such a sleepless quality, The Siege Of Troy magnifies this tension through a bizarre set of what sounds like live performance jams; catacomb music, all smoke-blackened wood, shadows from flaming torchlight, and the smell of burning oil.

Instrumentation is extremely minimal, probably just drum machine, sampler and electronic bass, but it is difficult to tell precisely. Melodies and hooks are voiced by warped blurtings and horn-like groans. Bass frequencies are blown out at the bottom. Low fidelity, filtered hisses saturate the layers. The rhythm section is calamitous, focusing on both resonant and distorted woody tones. The prominent inclusion of drum machine tambourine and inspired march-like rhythms give a historic, folk-ish tinge well suited to the project title, juxtaposing the grim, greasy energy of overblown toms and kick.

Sounding much bigger than Wendel allows it to be, a claustrophobic, dungeon-like quality is achieved by rendering everything in mono and using short tailed reverbs and delays on all parts to give a chamber effect. The tape version runs as two sides of 15 minutes of this kind of material, and it is a remarkably weird ride; its 11 tracks range between half a minute in length to roughly four, their arrangement almost continuous; angular and impulsive, proceedings often cut unexpectedly to favour something else, or transform into new arrangements that could be confused for outros. Titles range from sexual (‘Look Back At Me’, ‘Black Floral Lace Blindfold’) to emotional (‘Retribution Dub’, ‘Days Without Tears’) to panoramic (‘Hundred Cities’, ‘The Column Of Black Air’), giving a strange mixture of the modern and the primitive – a less ornate version of the orgy from Eyes Wide Shut.

It is, however, also only part of a transition period for Wendel. The linear listening restriction of a cassette is probably the closest way to appreciate how he may have performed and recorded The Siege Of Troy, but these are all still sketches compared to his Kassem Mosse releases. This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but perhaps 30, linearly arranged minutes of such skeletal work is a little long. Overall, I found the 7” vinyl version more satisfying in a different way, giving as it does giving the option to play back and mix any of the tracks at will. Its three well-chosen album cuts and one original contribution also neatly summarise the release’s overall sound.

It may only be a sidestep for Wendel, but The Siege Of Troy is exciting to hear in a world of dance music getting more presentable by the day. Perhaps working on it further might risk the losing some of the project’s raw energy, but any more of these thunderous tracks, particularly on pint-sized vinyl, will be very, very welcome.

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