Code Elektro - 'Wolf'
Last year we featured the ‘cyberpunk’ debut of Code Elektro, and the album ‘Superstrings’, which we liked but also described (unfairly...) as a relatively ‘niche’ release. I think at the time I was slightly unsure whether I would find anything relevant or interesting to say about a genre I had little knowledge on, but wanted to write about the music simply because I found it compelling listening and enjoyed it. A year on I still don’t claim to have anything relevant or interesting to say about Code Elektro's follow up ‘Wolf’, but what I can tell you is that I was genuinely excited when I heard it was to be released, have enjoyed it even more than the debut and that I really recommend it.
‘Superstrings’, if my original review was correct, was written and recorded by Martin Ahm over a 4 year period, so to have a follow up one year on is possibly a measure of the success of the original, and I read some really positive reviews of it subsequent to our own. It was also nominated for a GAFFA Award for Best Danish Electronic Album of 2015. And whilst the new album 'Wolf' is still fundamentally based around the same rhythmic analog and digital space aged synth sounds that we heard throughout Superstrings, it is actually more diverse in its musical output and ultimately a more rewarding listen as a result. The theme of the album, which is based around ‘technology, the future and the role of man in relation to nature’ is also interesting is because one of the successes of Martin Ahm is that he is able to convey real emotion and subtleties in his writing, even though his work is 'instrumental' and characterized by synthesizers and sound design.
It opens with ‘Overture (Welcome to the Wolf Den’) a howling wolf, the sound of footsteps through snow (or gravel) and immediately Martin Ahm has my attention – albeit my slightly ill at ease attention, whilst the album’s title track ‘Wolf’ is a glowering, intense and slightly menacing track which shifts through different phases. But the music switches pace with ‘Slow Motions’, atmospheric, less reliant on the spiky rhythms of previous tracks, and opening up a new world of musical and imaginative opportunities. ‘Impactor’ returns to a structure where we’re offered a build up of minimalist style rhythmic synth pulses, layered on each other. ‘Lost in Time’ introduces a huge sprawling electric guitar solo, which doesn’t sound out of place at all, and just adds to the expansive noise. And in the final track ‘Postlude (Transformation)’ we’re treated to a searing powerful and passionate sounding saxophone solo, underpinned with the heartbeat of those massive pulsing synths.
Here's a taster of a few tracks on the album:
‘Wolf’ is an imaginative, original album which is absorbing, persuasive and brilliantly conceived by Martin Ahm. The expansion of sounds from ‘Superstrings’ works really well, but the most impressive feature of ‘Wolf’ is the depth of that sound, which resonates and rumbles beautifully through my speakers with a level of clarity and precision that I rarely hear. Code Elektro rightly has a wide and appreciative audience, and this is well written modern electronic composition which is well deserving of any accolades that it gets.
Nordic Music Review 8.5/10
Wolf was released on June 3rd through Iceberg Records, and you can get a Vinyl copy of the album here: