Occasionally you just need some respite from the noise; a bit of melody to cut through the dirge.

Henrik Weber’s production is super-slick, drawing from the same palette as previous album The Bliss, his music is delivered economically; beats skating delicately around building subtly into ornamental pieces of sound. The Splendour reminds me a bit of something off Murcof’s Martes album. Things get a little heavier on Behind The Stars, which even features an authentic-German-techno-voice.

These deeper moments are too sparse though. The album relies heavily on melancholic shifts of mood and is a little over-delicate; particularly in the albums midsection, where the tracks lack some of the drive and direction of Weber’s earlier albums.

A lot seems to have been made about the album being ‘techno for indie kids’ due to the appearances of Panda Bear and Tyler Pope (of !!! & LCD Soundsystem). The sound has certainly travelled pretty far from what was traditionally understood as techno, but this can be seen as a culmination of the effect of Wolfgang Voight’s record label, Kompakt. Their recent output has concentrated  on (mostly successful) attempts at bringing fun, pop sensibilities to the world of techno and ambient through artists such as Matias Aguayo, Gui Boratto, The Field and their Pop Ambient series.

I’m a little more cynical about the guest appearances, there must have been some pressure on Weber to produce a recognisable cross-over album due to the migration from Dial Records to indie-stalwart Rough Trade. If anyone can actually recognise Tyler Pope contribution to The Splendour I would be surprised. I have mixed emotions about Panda Bear’s appearance. His vocals on Stick To My Side seem a little deadened by the precision of the beats and lacks the exuberance of his more familiar productions; but his sunny, laid-back delivery does give a warmth to contrast the otherwise cool production.

Towards the end of the album you can hear references to Weber’s interest in ‘shoegaze’, Im Bann particularly reminiscent of the bubbling ambience of Seefeel. The influence of ambient music and field recordings is also clear; the music has a flowing, mineral quality that could easily be channelled from the glacial scenes on the cover painting; a far cry from the machine-aesthetic of Techno’s roots.

This all probably sounds a little luke-warm. When I started writing this I did intend to produce a more positive review. Not an album to over-analyse maybe, but an enjoyable one nonetheless.

Rough Trade have made The Splendour available as a free download and you can listen to the whole lot on Spotify.

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