Lee Gamble’s Koch opens with a slow-motion swell of vaporous gasps, like the deep breathing of a person meditating or the last respiratory acts of a body on its way out. It’s calm and a little bit creepy, certainly expectant in a way that makes one wonder where the rest of the ensuing album will go. With Gamble, it’s hard to say. As one of the reputation-making artists on the feted electronic-music label PAN, he has flitted between old-school rave and future-shock techno, all with a jilted, radicalized approach known to turn jungle tunes into ambient anthems and simple club beats into causes for contemplation.
Koch is erratic. After the mesmerizing opener, “Motor System” hits the road with a driving, propulsive beat full of thudding kicks and clattering hi-hats. Strange sine waves and sloshes of noise hover over top, covering everything but never quite settling down. After that cataclysm, “You Concrete” goes gaseous — its ambient waves broken up only by a lone, mysterious sample of a voice saying, “What you’ve got is a whole miserable subculture.” Is he talking about dance music, a seeming Eden of euphoria and excess? Probably, but who knows.
“Nueme” marks a patient in-between state, with the metabolism of an ambient track but a steady accrual of percussion (cymbal taps, hand claps, etc.) that makes it rhythmic by the end. From there it’s everything-goes, from the intense strobing club rub of “HMix” to the twitchy IDM paroxysms of “Voxel City Spirals” to the experimental inner-ear sound effects of “Ornith-Mimik.” That examples of such range make any sort of sense in such close proximity suggests Gamble has a mind worthy of bringing them all together.