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Thomas Fehlman Visions of Blah

Thomas Fehlman-collaborator with The Orb, Sun Electric and other seminal ambient artists-has never gained much notice for his own work, but the excellent (and ironically named) Visions of Blah should nudge him a little closer to notoriety. At first glance, Visions sounds like a step backwards into the Kompakt catalog: the circusy-stomp of "Streets of Blah" sounds much like the triplet techno Mike Ink was turning out a decade ago. But with the punchier "Superbock" and "Rotenfaden" Visions's forward scope becomes clear. Beyond the churning rhythms and unusually propulsive energy, Fehlman's real talent is in startlingly complex sound design, drawing together a wealth of textures and timbres rich enough to make run-of-the-mill minimal techno look black-and-white by comparison. Indeed, far from minimalist, Visions-which isn't afraid to flood its rhythms with torrents of chords until its pulse is as indistinct as the rocks beneath rapids-distills pop's over-the-top pleasures into a deep, shimmering pool of harmonic excess. And you still just can't get enough.

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