What exactly is minimal? So often today the term is labored with connotations of lifeless, unimaginative loops, a far cry from the heyday of the early-noughties scene, when stripped back structures and reduced form allowed musical creativity to flourish. It is a topic that Les Points, a collective of young artists from Zurich, tackle head on in their first full length release, the aptly titled YOUKNOWWHATMINIMALISCH LP
On first listen, it's evident that this is not entirely cut from the same cloth as their previous output, which had tended to tread a more formulaic path through minimal house. In fact, to get a sense of this sea change, one need look no further than the eye-catching artwork, which is laden with day-glo acid smilies, each encompassed by another of the diverse influences referenced by the artists (from gabber to glitch, and everything in between). Given the freedom of the full length format, Les Points have grabbed the opportunity to experiment.
A common feature of all the tracks is their origins in analog jam sessions, giving the LP a distinctly organic sound, one which is still characteristic of its producers. It opens with mesmeric “Lost,” a woozy trip through the typical clicks and pops of the minimal sound, followed by the ravey “Ultitemplate,” which rattles between freaky acid and oscillating sirens. A chunk of the album then take a plunge into more techno territory—“Baasiclaxer” is a breezy dub session, and the menacing “Saturn2” sounds like a juiced up STL. There are hints of Aphex Twin in “Breakbits2,” one of the album’s high points, which puts a rusty, gritty sounding breaks loop under some glowing keys.
Even in its more subdued moments, the productions are still compelling. The skippy beats of “Erica” embody the same haunting qualities of early Burial, muffled by ghostly moans and off-key strings. On the other hand, “Fddd” is far gentler—a slow-building, atmospheric cut, tied together only by the tick of a highly reduced hi-hat. Finally, wrapping things up is the title track—bleeps resonate over marching drums, before a concluding vocal begs the question, “Do you know what minimal is?” Some light is indeed shone on Les Points’ vision of minimalism: The sum of all the parts of the record is a lesson in restraint, and a reminder of the variety that can be teased out of such a condensed set of sounds.