Basic Unit Productions/Negative Gain Productions
Dejan Samardzic and Daniel Myer’s work together as Haujobb defies the easy narratives we use to understand music. Their entire discography is made up of seeming contradictions, progressively more streamlined while containing new strata of detail, more grandiose through careful applications of restraint, constantly evolving into a purer and more definitive version of themselves. A quick comparison of Freeze Frame Reality and Solutions For A Small Planet is all that’s required to see how much addition by subtraction they’re capable of. Their best material is born from that tension, and in the case of new album Blendwerk from its resolution; it’s a distinct departure that is paradoxically and even perversely Haujobb being Haujobb.
Tracing their sound from 2011’s excellent New World March, cursory listens would seem to suggest that Myer and Samardzic have rendered the mechanical motifs of that album in an even more unadorned fashion. That analysis quickly falls apart on repeated listens, in spite of the album’s very forward application of analogue bass synth and perfectly round and expertly placed kicks, Blendwerk contains multitudes. It’s easy to find in spots, such as “Dark Heart 5” revolving around piano provided by Greek IDM auteur Zinovia. The song uses a slight but sonically rich arrangement of skipping and chirping synth sounds to counterpoint and add depth and detail. Haujobb plays it more coy elsewhere, hiding an elastic arrangement of percussion and protean synth textures behind a fat bassline and a particularly manic vocal from Myer on “Destroy”. A stripped-down element here brings the odd production tic into the fore there. Every creative choice represents the negation of an infinite number of quantum possibilities, and Blendwerk feels like a very conscientiously navigated journey through that multiverse.
This isn’t to say that Blendwerk is a devil made up entirely of details: it is often very straightforward compositionally. “Failures” is probably the most plainly EBM song that the band has written in more than two decades, with its strength lying in rich sound design that feels more indebted to the techno and nu-body sounds that inform Dejan’s recent work as DSX and Myer’s occasional drops as Liebknecht. “Failures” is their contradictory nature in action, more elementary in form but also rich in production complexities that easily disappear when not focused on directly. It’s an especially impressive trick when the duo engage in self-reference, like “Information Space” resolving unexpectedly from disparate elements into a distinct nod to Solutions for a Small Planet, and “Perfection”‘s invocation of “Penetration” in its opening seconds.
While we can imagine Blendwerk ruffling some feathers by virtue of its integration of a broader swath of techno-driven sounds, this sort of cross-pollination’s been at the heart of the band at least since Solutions. Hell, go back to the Polarity liner notes to see what contemporary sounds were getting Dejan and Daniel fired up in the studio in 2001 (Timo Mass, Matthew Herbert, and Unkle amongst others). Tracking releases by other bands on their own Basic Unit Productions label is all that’s required to get a sense of what’s pushing them forward fourteen years later. Blac Kolor, Div|der, and R010R are all acts which have no doubt drawn influence from the pulsing tension Haujobb mastered in the 90s, and are surely happy to serve as an inspiring launchpad for their next salvo of anxiety. Another (thankfully) irresolvable dialectic.
A final note about Haujobb’s inscrutability even as they’re delivering material which is clobbering you with heated bass and vicious snares: the track structuring of Blendwerk initially puzzled us. The stacking of four beat heavy tracks to close the record out while the more subdued and downtempo material was found on the A-side seemed like an odd means of sequencing things. Were Haujobb wanting to ensure that their more experimental fare wasn’t overlooked during misguided searches for club tunes or “singles” (whatever currency those concepts have in 2015)? Did they want to close things out with the clattering and confrontational “Produkt” as a way of sticking in the listener’s craw even after the record was over? Then we noticed that Blendwerk‘s tracks play in alphabetical order. That’s Haujobb for you: confounding stabilizing narratives by virtue of not giving a fuck.