REVIEW Vermont ‘II Remixes’ [Kompakt]

On their second collaboration, the experimental affair turned into a deep-hitting artistic venture between German producers Marcus Worgull and Motor City Drum Ensemble’s Daniel Plessow, Vermont begets yet another self-titled album plainly re-classified as ‘II’ which was released earlier this year. After months of roaming the peripheries of electronic music listeners’ pragmatic sensibilities and limited but sometimes essential curiosity into the ambient territories, two of Vermont’s tracks from the II installation, as well as another which never saw the light of our days, fall into the hands of three genre renegades who have stood the test of times.

The standout track of this EP is the remix of ‘Dschuna’, an originally stark, sense-seducing, nerve-pinching, percussion-stripped vagrant reconnaissance to depths as far as listeners’ despair and dysphoria can handle. Dixon’s tribalesque and dance-floor friendly treatment of the original, addresses the startling phrenic contradiction imposed by the the Worgull Plessow tandem’s artistic masterpiece. Regardless of Vermont’s intention, the most widely known reference to ‘Dschuna’ is the mystical legend of the Russian faith healer Eugenia ‘Juna’ Yuvashevna Davitashvili’s; which is ironically complemented by a key note choice that characteristically weeps and harrows, precisely associated by German poet and musician, Schubart, to deep depression, funereal lament, groans of misery and longing for the grave.

Steffen Berkhan, Innervisions head honcho and Worgull’s Temporary Secretary contemporary and boss simultaneously, handled his reinterpretation of ‘Dschuna’ as gracefully and perhaps even more so than his firm grasp and handle on half-of-Vermont’s career. What better way to retain the lifelessness while resurrecting Dschuna from its desolation, than an elegant, perfectly balanced infusion of percussion and groove. Dixon ups the temperature with an instant singe of fiery snare and molar-gritting percussive clicks; then herds his tribe of buoyant vocals – a brigade of headstrong male canaries and a pulse-riveting choir of pubescent incantation, to dig ‘Dschuna’ out of its seemingly self-afflicted confinement. The melancholic and enchanting allure of ‘Dschuna’ cannot be missed and is not at all diluted. But interwoven with a warm percussion and harmonious string elements, ‘Dschuna’ transcends into a euphoric musical oscillation. Dixon’s rework is a metamorphosis of the Vermont orignal, that seems to rev our circulatory system with a delicate blood pumping groove. ‘Dschuna’ faced her demise at 65, failing to reach the 100 year longevity which she inspirited in her followers, due to blood circulation issues.

Along the veins, no-pun-intended, of ‘Dschuna’, Skorbut, also the German word for the tragic disease Scurvy, lends itself to the artful manipulation of the only French in this German-studded cast. The scene veteran who has proven his craft with two successful collaborations with the legendary Daft Punk, aces his reinterpretation of the original by manifesting his fine navigation of our locomotive facilities through a funky, groovy rhythmic cavalcade. While the phantasmal, futuristic original can be delightful in some sense, its eerie undertones are not fit for the dancefloor on regular occasions – except perhaps during the wee hours of the morning, when partygoers begin to tame their adrenaline high with some deep, exsanguinous quiescence. By now it seems percussion is the answer to the human problem. I:Cube’s introduction of an impelling bassline, interjected with short shocks of percussion and proceeded by a hip showdown between pitchy synth and krautrock jazzes up a ravishing musical expedition that encircles various intergalactical orbits; and prompts plenty of nimble agitation.

To conclude the four-track compilation, Kompakt turns into its cofounder in his Wasserman moniker to render his compendious artistry and seasoned bravado to unravel the never-released ‘Paradigma’ from the confines of Vermont’s uncertainties. ‘Paradigma’ unlocks its gates to a peculiar dimension of inorganic sound structures. Nearly antithetical to Dixon’s approach, Wasserman, more commonly known as Wolfgang Voigt draws on a gorgeous manipulation of synthetic movements with minimalistic backgrounds, that drives the track to circumference the outskirts of our own fantastical predilections.

‘Vermont II’, exquisite and intricate as it is, mesmerizing nearly anodyne, can be taken in as pure art and savored as ingenious music. However the limitless space and reclusive soundscapes it abdicates our aural appositeness in, may be too much for an average listener to comprehend, much less absorb. By nature, humans are inclined to instantly reject the obscure; those who decide to carry on may choose to explore and take it as far as their inhibitions can handle; and few make it through to the end and revel in the ride. Worgull and Plessow are masters not only of their art but also of their own personal introspection. From their longstanding tenure as musicians, connections with artists from diverse niches of the electronic and non-electronic music communities; as well as an unrelenting reflection of their individual vulnerabilities, together as Vermont, the two Germans lend a prolific and equally daunting space where skilled artists can frolic, play, and hopefully through their own experiences and adeptness, dissect, impregnate to perhaps invigorate, then recreate into easier-to-digest dance-floor igniters.

Vermont ‘II Remixes’ was released October 27th, 2017 on Kompakt. (Marie)