Field Records has been publishing versatile electronic music from a string of high-principled artists since 2008. Firmly rooted in minimalism and modesty, the label gained a reputation for its versatile and atmospheric output. Field Records now celebrates its fifteenth anniversary in style with the first complete vinyl edition of Monolake’s seminal excursion into experimental dub techno, Hongkong. Originally released on the now-classic Chain Reaction label in 1997, this collection of early singles by Robert Henke and Gerhard Behles has gone on to become a vital listening experience in its own right – a genre classic alongside other groundbreaking works from the likes of Porter Ricks and Vladislav Delay.
The tracks which make up Hongkong were made while Henke and Behles studied computer science and immersed themselves in Berlin’s techno scene. Their early forays into computer-based music production were enabled by the use of the Max/MSP programming environment, forming a backdrop to the landmark work they would undertake in developing the Ableton Live DAW. Henke and Behles travelled to Hong Kong in 1996 to attend the annual International Computer Music Conference, and while there recorded extensive field recordings. These recordings became the glue that pieced together their collaborative tracks into a fluid listening experience for a CD-compilation at Chain Reaction’s request.
While absolutely rooted in the embryonic sound of European dub techno, Monolake’s early work possesses a back room, headphone-ready demeanour which lends itself to the album listening experience. In the cascade of rhythms created by precision engineered delays and subliminal, expansive spatial world building occurring throughout Hongkong, the stage is set for a full and thorough immersion. Before the Monolake sound progressed into a more pointillist form of computer music as Henke’s solo project, Hongkong presented a gritty, grainy sonic still tied in some way to the traditional methods of techno production, even as the artists’ ideas were sending the sequencing and arranging in exciting new directions.
Remastered and presented for the first time as a complete double 12” package, this is the definitive edition of an essential work in the evolution of experimental techno. As Henke himself explains, “twenty-five years later, this record still holds immense value to me in many ways.”
D2. Mass Transit Railway
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