Album Review: Ellen Allien / ‘LISm’ (BPitch Control)



Forty-five minutes long and based on a theatrical dance performance — probably one of the few formats Allien has yet to make her own — this single episode is ambitious next levelism taking made-for-stage music on a drama schooling through analogue and digital, indulging Allien’s inner thespian while bringing DJ culture to the boards.

Strumming acoustic premonitions from a rocking chair, under a moonlit sky in the middle of nowhere, a low-rent start feels for the tonal and abstract, laying a loose beginning-middle-end foundation. Bringing dirge drums to the wilderness, Allien’s loneliness is abundantly clear until, planed by electronics, a burgeoning curiosity splutters into life as clips and bleeps activate, turning the barren into a field of randomized LEDs.

Not a logical progression, but the ‘real’ Allien is now coming through, ever poised to spring the next wave of sounds. After a period stalking prey through fiddled frequencies, still switching between processed and organic, she goes into deep synthesized thought, beaming a free-jazz flashback future-bound. That intro already seems like a lifetime ago. Becoming industrially, then humanly pensive, the patchwork evolves evermore erratically, making the visuals to go with it hard to sketch out. Around two-thirds in, deep jackin’ house takes over in a short-lived, stage-abandoning, LSD-ready experience.

Back to brooding, Allien’s last ten minutes are spent placing leaden pulses and hopeful fragments into an electro/new wave cliffhanger. Brave, if in need of CliffsNotes to help you keep up.

File under: Apparat, Boom Bip, Roll the Dice