death.by.design – motus pacis (CDD, 2012)

Death.by.design is a German instrumental solo project, active since late 2011, that skips from breakcore to dark hip hop to ambient drone and back, and, at times, sounds quite influenced by Hana Sumai as well as its beat-driven predecessor.

Clocking in slightly under 30 minutes, motus pacis is a well-stacked EP rather than an album, a collection of ideas gathered from across a spectrum of styles. The ambient tracks serve mainly as padding, and tend not to evolve past their initial states. Where the drum tracks come in, they do so in very different ways. Recoil’s soft synths curiously jump around in a non-treatening mystery soundscape. Perception and Recluse, on the other hand, take a more abrasive and simplistic route. At times, there is a lack of melodic development (Static, Shelter), but just as well, other tracks easily succeed in mixing rythm and musicality (Mirrors, Aeternum).

Where motus pacis does find a common thread, it does so through atmosphere. Especially the beat-oriented ideas on the disc have a lingering sense of industrial decay about them (something e.g. Rock Action-era Mogwai explored nicely in their Glasgow-themed tracks). On a record that’s clearly about looking for a voice, it’s rewarding to hear the first shadows of such one. And, though the record is overall a dark one, on its best moments, like two minutes into recoil, or shadow’s swinging piano, motus pacis already transcends its pre-natal conditions, and tells tales of playful nostalgia and even a hint of fairy tale wonderment. A voice that should be worth hearing.

1) motus pacis (3:12)
2) recoil (5:01)
3) perception (2:29)
4) recluse (2:40)
5) static (1:24)
6) shelter (3:04)
7) mirrors (3:33)
8) shadow (the sun) (1:39)
9) aeternum. (3:31)
10) epilogue (1:01)

Highlights: recoil, static, mirrors, shadow

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