On “Call Myself” [Phoke72], Berlin-based musician Audiophil (aka Nico Steckhan) and singer Pollyx create fragile, glitchy, IDM-laced synthpop with ghostly vocal melodies and minimal electronic arrangements that suggest rather than drown. Audiophil’s dainty beats and acoustic instruments (piano, guitar, drums) underscore stronger themes of emotional isolation and dislocation that suit the sparse, sterile melodies provided by Pollyx and at times, Audiophil himself.
“Forget the Time We Had” by Audiophil
Take the track “Forget the Time We Had.” The first half features a discordant acoustic piano coupled with the synth burblings and electronic beats and effects-laden vocals reminiscent of 80s synthpop. Soon, there is only the electronic stuff left, along with the sung line “Don’t miss you anymore / Completely forgot the time we had.” Like a sinister Depeche Mode or a soundtrack to a psychological thriller.
“Touched Me” by Audiophil
Other times, you get pretty, acoustic tunes like “Touched Me” that turn from a slow guitar ballad into a frenetic glitchy vocal track that sounds more pop than IDM. Or even the opening track “A Lake in the Desert” which transforms a very accessible chord progression from folk music into a pleasant pop track complete with thumping darbouka percussion and synth stabs.
The idea for the album title was taken from a Zen koan, which could explain why the arrangements contian a spartan, minimalist aesthetic that reminds me of oriental design.
Even as the album keeps emotion at a distance, it draws emotion from you as the listener. This is beautiful work which is sinister in its ordered chaos yet strangely enticing. A refreshing lake in the desert of modern music, indeed.
Here’s the “Making Of” video for Audiophil’s Call Myself: