When you are of the stature of Carsten Nicolai, [AKA Noto/Alva Noto], there is not only a certain reputation to uphold, but an inevitable exposure to wider critique and judgement. Having already seen some of the comments made about this release, it is obvious that this second installment of the Xerrox series has caused something of a stir, and has seen critics and audience opinion divided..not to say polarised. Xerrox 2 most certainly has me sitting on the fence, as it is a marked departure from it’s counterpart, not only in content, but also in theme. Nicolai appears to have temporarily abandoned the original conceptual basis of the work as explored in part 1. No longer is there the prominent sound of degraded audio scattered amongst a sea of gritty blips and tones, in fact there is a decidedly warm ambience to the whole of this second part. There is a hint of static wash in the mix, but it is overall superseded by a sensuous swirl of tonal electronics, and sub-orchestral cycles.
Noto has engaged us in the past, with a seemingly effortless originality, with releases like UNITXT and Transall displaying a cool, incisive, urgent techno, the product of someone with his eyes firmly fixed on the hazy event-horizon of the future.
With that in mind, and with more releases to come in the series, it would be an unwise reviewer who passed ultimate judgement on the collection at this stage, save to say that it will be interesting to see how Nicolai’s Xerrox theme develops and concludes. Rather than take on some of the oblique sampling sources that found life in Xerrox 1, Nicolai has chosen here to enrol the services of fellow festival hopper, Stephen O’Malley, alongside Michael Nyman and Ryuichi Sakamoto. These samples, however are not explicit in the mix, and one gets the feeling that the originating artist is an unessential component, as there are no discernable tricks or traits on display, nothing that reveals its originator. Indeed, Nicolai does not reveal what these samples are, they could be instrumental tracts, or the minutest of filaments. Once blended in to the whole, we are confronted with a majestically handled slice of ambient electronica. Enough said. There are those of us who have come to expect something a little more cutting edge from Mr Nicolai, yet in the grand scheme of things, Xerrox Part 2 is more than exemplary in terms of richness of production and presentation..there is nothing here NOT to like..it just leaves me hoping that the next installment will be radically different, something that truly defies audience expectations..we will have to wait and see. BGN