Denzel + Huhn - Paraport

George Bass 09/01/2007

Rating: 4/5

It's a struggle to sell messrs Denzel + Huhn's third full-length in one digestible sentence. Plotted somewhere along the axes of Eat Static phoning home and the atmosphere that The Campfire Headphase almost achieved, Paraport could perhaps best be marketed as a film soundtrack played in 5.1 over a UFO Tannoy. By speed-dialing their way through a Rolodex of moods arranged across fifteen recordings, the secretive German duo have cooked up the first must-have IDM release of 2007. Still not sold yet?

The most striking feature of Paraport is the way its authors continuously experiment on the way their recordings flow - compositions end, restart and mutate in the space of a single track, but never get pretentious to the point where they become a muddled-up cake and arse party. Just when you think you've got a structure sussed and you're convinced you can accurately forge the bass signature, they either steer you down a short cut or throw something new into the mix. In less capable hands this approach to songwriting would conk out pretty quickly, but Denzel + Huhn don't let their technical curiosity mangle the emotions they're trying to communicate. Even the darker elements are carried out with the precision of a sniper: in spite of its summery title, July, with its feedback loops and Martian distress beacons, comes across like Matt Elliot pirating the test card jingle, spooky as late night Silent Hill. This is music that corrupt boffins play to squaddies as part of a hallucinogen trial - there's a tune in there somewhere, but you'd have to be Shane Carruth to piece the whole shebang together.

The album's not a complete Magic Eye, though, and there's easily enough bunting to keep it from all getting too gloomy. The chilled hum and mulched sirens of Karlsruhe are the perfect chaser to the sinister Korre, whose sixty seconds of crackly ambience recalls the efforts of labelmates Swod. An arty track on an album of arty tracks? Apparently so. What stops you from hitting Skip, however, is the strange familiarity that pervades the whole LP, like reading an old loveletter translated into a foreign language. Offane keyholes on some android sweetheart small talk, and even the title track comes across like a hungover Ulrich Schnauss struggling to force down the Beechams while he writes his montage music. Denzel + Huhn obviously don't see beauty as something that can be smeared onto a model's face.

They're definitely keen to get the mileage out of their chemistry set-list, whether it's the sunkissed digital ribbets they rub into Cauka or the synthetically bizarre Dorain, which serves up the sound of Gameboys and alarm clocks frying in a wok. However, the slurred remnants of melody that haunt each composition are impossible to ignore, and mean that while the album might not clean up at The Old Grey Whistle Test, it never falls into standalone sound effects territory. In essence, what they've created with Paraport is the sonic equivalent of one of those DVD portfolios you get for acclaimed indie directors - a chaptered showcase of brilliantly crafted tidbits linked by the most delicate of threads, and something that holds your attention like a trout-tickler.