Ken Karter is a new addition to the Stroboscopic Artefacts label, and one who is wasting no time in proving that he belongs on that label’s talented roster. With a personal ethos based on the reconciliation of esoteric and scientific aims, it is clear that his music hopes to avoid the blind alley of “either / or” binary thinking and instead strives for a fascinating journey into “both / and” experimental fusion. The label’s Monad series, already populated with producers who set their sights on similar artistic goals, provides a very fertile soil indeed for Karter’s integrationist worldview and intense sounds.
Ken Karter’s breakout release for Stroboscopic Artefacts is Monad XXI, and this in itself is a kind of happy coincidence: this is very much the sound of the 21st century, full of anticipatory tension and darkness, but also a great deal of rushing excitement related to new discoveries. Altogether, these pieces have an effect not unlike navigating through Tokyo on a rainy night: a profound feeling of natural and chaotic processes finding a way to reassert themselves within even the most well-choregraphed technological drama. Each track achieves this special sensation in its own way, with the leadoff MX-01.11 preferring ritually slow kick patterns and an ephemeral scaffolding of dust particles and other ‘micro’ sonic events. MX-02.11 follows this initiation with the type of headspace-dominating percussive pulses favored by the “clicks and cuts” school, which are here marinated in a mesmerizing tropical heat rather than situated in the austere coldness so often associated with that sound. The third cut on the EP, MX-03.11 quivers with vitality and restlessness, anchoring itself in the listener’s consciousness with the help of something like a massive, sliced-and-diced didgeridoo drone, and with a steady rain of percussive artillery fire. It’s an exceptional blend of militancy and ecstasy that segues into the likeminded finale, MX-04.11, an infusion of long tones and synthetic splashes once again girded with serious low-end beats.
With just these four tracks at his disposal, Karter shows the potential for electronic music to move beyond what is expected of it, infiltrating new listening environments and inviting new attitudes. As a culmination of the most impactive EDM features from the foregoing decades, and as a harbinger of what still lies ahead, this is a Monad to play loud – and, as ever, not to be missed.