Released: January 23rd, 2023
Mastered By: Taylor Deupree
Artwork By: Marco Cadioli
See Also: Sound thinking with Arovane
Every January, right after I finish the exhausting marathon of publishing my Best of the Year feature, I try to take a breath and reassess the current state of affairs with Headphone Commute. What am I doing with this thing? It feels like I am investing countless hours into HC, waking up early in the morning, sifting through a never-ending torrent of promo emails, scheduling upcoming content, and finally typing away at this keyboard to share some music with you, my dear reader. And what is this “investing” that I’m speaking of? Do I even expect something back in return? Not really. Knowing that I’ve spread all this love, opened up a few ears, and possibly even made some [virtual] friends in the process is plenty for me. But it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest, getting swayed by announcements of upcoming releases, or, even worse, feeling bad for not being there for someone in time. So apologies up front for not always responding, for not being on schedule, and for this little detour and an off-subject rant. So what is the punchline? What am I doing? I’m doing the same that I always have done. I’m staying true to myself and writing only about the music I love, sharing the output of musicians on labels that I’m proud to support in hopes that you help us keep music alive. And even if you discover one artist, one album, that resonates with your entire being, then I feel like my “job” has been done. I thank you for joining me on this journey, and I hope that somehow, even if it’s just a tiny bit, I’ve made this crazy world a better place. Alright, folks! Let’s take out those headphones and hit on this play button because we’ve got some gorgeous music to cover!
In case you are not familiar with the French label laaps, let me do a quick overview and a brief introduction. This is an independent imprint, which I can also call an ambitious project, by Mathias Van Eecloo, who is also responsible for bringing Eilean Rec. into this world. The latter concluded with 100 releases, and thus, laaps was born. “laaps is a permanent continuity in sounds and visuals. each release starts with the end of the previous one. in sounds and visuals. an exquisite corpse with 100 releases which will make the loop.” We are now 25 records into this voyage (so a quarter through!), and if you’re just jumping on board, you can start at the beginning with this coverage of the first three releases and also play through this gorgeous LAAPS 2020-2021 mix that Mathias has put together for HC podcast, covering the first two years of 16 entries in one single swoop. My highlights of last year’s output include music by Taylor Deupree and Andrew Tasselmyer, but I also encourage you to check out Ecovillage and Tomoyoshi Date. Do keep in mind that if you are an avid collector of vinyl, you may want to jump on the label’s merch page ASAP because the records sell out (there are only seven copies of Sinter still available as of this writeup).
Sinter is a 40-minute expedition into the organic and synthetic composition from one of the world’s renowned composers and sound designers, Uwe Zahn, who releases music under his Arovane moniker. Pushing the limits of true sonic exploration, Zahn utilizes an extensive array of available tools (hardware and software, retro and new) to carve an always-shifting, evolving, immaterial sculpture which tantalizes and delights. I can tell you that whenever I feel a little bit tired of the “traditional” synth sounds, I always find inspiration in patches created by Zahn. He has worked with numerous companies to develop unique presets (for Axel Hartmann’s Neuron, Ableton’s Spectral Textures, and Native Instrument’s Straylight, just to namedrop a few). You can check out this In the studio with Arovane or, even better, this Sound Thinking with Arovane interview I published a few years ago to get a closer glimpse.
Sintering or frittage is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass of material by heat or pressure without melting it to the point of liquefaction. […] The material produced by sintering is called sinter. The word sinter comes from the Middle High German sinter, a cognate of English cinder.
The album is beautifully mastered by Taylor Deupree, who has collaborated with Zahn on this fantastic Skal_Ghost record, released on 12k in 2022 (also in my Best of the Year selections). This album is perfect for those introspective moments in early mornings and late nights, but also if you’re interested in peeling apart the layers and studying the intricate textures hidden within. Thus, the twelve tracks on Sinter showcase Zahn’s talent, combining sound design with musical form, cultivating an entirely new world, an entirely new story, within each sonic piece. As such, listening to Sinter makes not only my ears and brain happy but also my heart. Highly recommended on repeat.