Label: SA Recordings
Released: April 8, 2021
Mastered By: Nathan Moody
Artwork By: Shuhua Xiong
When I first previewed the latest album by Stefan Goetsch (and by ‘preview’ I mean, rapidly skipped around the tracks by getting a general idea), I landed on snippets of noise, buzz and broken machinery oozing its wails in one final breath. I was not in the mood for the general aura, but have recognized moments that have stolen my focus, and decided to put aside Hainbach for another appropriate time. I am glad that I did. Playing through the seven tracks of Landfill Totems requires specific attention: acceptance of crackle and hum of the very same dying machinery as the process of composition; an openness to experimentation with the equipment evoking the sound that’s not meant to be; the pushing of boundaries over the sonics defining such ‘music’, where electromagnetic frequencies turn into sound, turn into rhythms, turn into tracks. Under the manipulation of this Berlin-based electronic musician, old switchboards, obsolete lab gear, and discarded telecommunication equipment become instruments once again, to tell a different story of their existence, one of abandonment through human progress, upgrades and disbands, upcycling and scrap. Add into the formula a minimalistic approach to sound design, slow-building tension, and impending doom, and you’ve got a soundtrack for a world in crisis, on which we can all now reflect.
Hainbach erected three huge sculptures from obsolete, once high-end research equipment, taken from nuclear research labs, particle accelerators and grandfather’s sheds. These forgotten relics of scientific progression and milestones of human evolution were repurposed by the artist and given a new lease of life in a completely unforeseen capacity as musical instruments dubbed the ‘Landfill Totems’.
The juxtaposition of religious, totemic imagery and electronic landfill is, in part, meant to act as a commentary on the environmental cost of progress; what was once the pinnacle of technology quickly becomes unviable and destined for the scrapheap except for the intervention of Hainbach, upcycling and redesigning them as pillars and shrines to the idea that progress doesn’t always have to cause destruction.
The concept does not end with the album. Earlier this month, Hainbach collaborated with Spitfire Audio to release a collection of these one-of-a-kind complex sounds in a plugin under the same name. This effected and manipulated library of samples provides a unique construction kit of elements featuring “eerie morse code bleeps, comms signals and flickering bass pulses; deep drones, ominous pads and grainy textural rhythms; industrial drum hits and loops; electromagnetic noise and heavenly humanoid ‘voices’.” Now, electronic musicians all over the world can access this collection to further enhance their creations with atmospheres of decaying beauty found within these abandoned machines. This Spitfire plugin is only 29 big ones (in Euro, USD, and GBP), and here’s a trailer to give you a taste.
As of this writing, there are only 6 copies left of a limited edition 12″ clear vinyl available directly from the artist’s Bandcamp. But if you’re too late, you can always experience Landfill Totems on all of your favourite digital streaming platforms, preferably lossless, preferably loud. Also, if you’re a total gear nerd (like me), I recommend that you check out Hainbach’s YouTube Channel on esoteric equipment and avantgarde music techniques.