Attempting to draw parallels between the experimental tradition that emerged from Berlin and New York and its impact on contemporary electronic producers in those cities, the latest edition of the Air Texture series presents an intriguing collection of artists spread out over two discs. Curated by Canadian expat Scott Monteith (a.k.a. Deadbeat) and New York-based Gregor Asch (a.k.a. DJ Olive), Air Texture Volume III is a study in measured moods, subdued atmospheres, and droning washes of sound.
Known for his spacious dub techno, Deadbeat's selections emphasize subtle contrasts of texture and tone, mostly avoiding the reverb-heavy cuts he has been fond of in the past. Bookending the first album with his own tracks, "Laura Solaris" and "Primordian Waves," Monteith's gauzy synths lurk in the shadows. Early on, Axel Willner (a.k.a. The Field, operating here as Loops of Your Heart) offers soft, murmuring soundscapes on "Like a Wolf." Thomas Fehlmann, best known for his work with The Orb, turns in one of the standout tracks. "Embrace," which builds on a simple a machine shuffle before a tightly manicured bassline emerges. Monteith also taps the drawn-out melodrama of Ricardo Villalobos' and Max Loderbauer's "Pianofup."
Taking a broad view of New York's free-wheeling electronic spirit, DJ Olive pulls together a moody batch of tracks that only hints at the city's rich musical history and influence. Cutting up isolated bits of guitar, Jim O'Rourke's "Low Bow" is a beautifully fractured composition that is both eerie and somber. Oren Ambarchi's restrained approach works well on "Rhubarb," while Raz Mesinai's "Go Figure Skating" is draped in nuanced synths that build toward a beatless climax. Eyvind Kang's "Petrified Wood" provides a warm, timeless feel to the midpoint of the second album that helps smooth out the edges of some of DJ Olive's selections.
Air Texture Volume III may not be an exhaustive exploration of ambient producers in Berlin and New York, but it does provide an engaging snapshot of the experimental undercurrent that still runs through both cities.