Wechselspannung is hot anno 2003: electro is more popular as ever and minds seem to be wide open for all electro bleeps and strings. Describing Wechselspannung however as just bleeps and strings would be an enormous underrating of the album. First off, the album stood there already ten years ago and it stood there as a solid piece. It has its own very distinctive sound - hard to describe but once you heard it you will never forget Wechselspannung - call it an "electro owl" with a very neurotic " oe-hoe" - that makes the backbone of the album. Rest of the album is composed by a lot of non-beat sections that are however always very dynamic, restless too, always making your legs and head shake, as if you invent the beat yourself, beat that ultimately comes and emphasizes the whole dynamism by hitting unhurriedly but hard on the right spots!
This is a Namlook-Sharp Zenith!
(review by Jean-Marc Dekesel)
meandering bleep-blip techno that's more blunt than Atom Heart, Less structured than LFO or earlier members of the electronic genre. There's better stuff out there on FAX. The closest FAX came to the rest of experimental techno - repetitive and rhythm oriented, trying to be playful but sounding mechanical and dull. Rating: 5/10.
(review by Michael Lekas)
It's just synth noodling, but wow, it's _very cool_ noodling. Pete Namlook and Jonah Sharp reunite for 48 minutes of really cool noises -- bleepy, bouncy, and direct, it reminds me a bit of some of the early Warp stuff in spots. The FAXmailing described this as "auto ambience" or something like that and it fits -- driving, playful music that manages to be creatively rhythmic and percussive (almost) without drums. Listening to this at work I found myself bopping like an idjit even while concentrating on other stuff. Completely non-snoozy: I like.
(review by freeke)
I was a bit set back by Wechselspannung. I found that the composition of this 47 minute piece by Namlook and J. Sharp was not unlike Dark Side of the Moog. Though DSOTM begins with sweeping melody, and Wechselspannung builds layer upon layer of chunky percussion loops, the end result is the same, that booo-oom bum bum bum bassy chunk of trance slices through halfway through the disc.... now, I must give credit to a man who has released an odd 25+ solo/collaboration CDs in the last 3 years, but when the music starts sounding too similar, I start to get worried. Does Jet Chamber suffer the same chronic problem? Fortunately Wechselspannung has enough original content to keep me interested.... other than that minor fault, the CD is really quite good.
...and what does Wechselspannung mean?
(review by Aaron Michelson)
Starts out really experimental-a bit Aphex sounding in places, then about halfway through a melody comes in for the rest of the CD with lots of beats. A little Autechre sounding in places too. Excellent.
(review by xdadax)
Wechselspannung is an electro symphony. For those like me still beloved of the arcade funk of the early eighties inspired by Kraftwerk's Computerwelt album, this is pure joy. It is steeped in the love of electronic machines sounding like electronic machines. Wechselspannung means alternating current; the cover shows a sinewave. We hear this as the starting motif, a fundamental building block of electronics and sound. From there syncopated sequences slowly build around this, on bleeps and blips, but in an exquisite modular system. The whole album works like this; any element fits with every other in unique combinations; the elegance of the overall design is what I find so beautiful here. These compinations shift and build in an extremely funky manner, with a beautiful innocent upbeat mood, until at about the 15 minute mark the mix strips down to introduce a fabulous bass sequence. The other patterns then start to explore with a new sense of joy how they sound with this big underpinning sound for another ten minutes until the sequence develops one of Jonah Sharp's beautiful gated sequences, suddenly bringing an emotional depth to the mood. Before long this is contrasted again with the introduction of the drums. A halting electro break reminscent of those old TR808 rhythms again adds a whole new dimension to the existing sequences, they suddenly make sense in a way that seems so perfectly worked out. And we have waited about half an hour! From here we have all the elements which are slowly stacked up towards the climax, then stripped back to nothing again.
I listened to this almost constantly for a year when it was released, mostly in my car. Apparantly Kuhlman and Sharp decided to generate all the sounds from scratch for this project, even the drums. This seems to lend it such a pure electronic feel. Its a mini masterpiece, even if the mix does become a little rich towards the conclusion. The exact same brief is explored again on the sequel. Just as good, but nothing can match my pleasure at hearing this for the first time.
Wechselspannung does seem to turn up still and not for silly money.
(review by Johnathan Richard Deayton)