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Nov 04

Who is Alexander Kowalski?

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Who is Alexander Kowalski? — well, actually I don’t need to ask that because first I found this Discogs.com bit and that led me to his homepage and now I have the basics. But I only just heard him today, specifically the Progress and Response albums, and I was deeply pleased, so I’ll have to look into this fellow some more.

The reasons why? Well, he pushes my buttons very readily, it’s techno, the beats, the bass, it’s all good — not something which sounds very compelling I’ll grant, but in part that’s because I’m typing this while listening to something else right now, so I’m admittedly a touch distracted. But my larger point is that I’m not really and never have been a techno completist or steeped in the knowledge or whatever, despite the fact that I love a LOT of house and techno and early d’n’b and etc. etc.

For me, when a press release/info page like that first link says something like “Kowalski elegantly fuses elements from classic Detroit and historical Berlin techno sound,” I’m aware — generally — of what’s being talked about. For me, though, whenever I hear such revisitations like this, I hear something which I don’t, or don’t always, hear in similar revisitations to the past in other genres. Instead, there is something here which always sounds thrilling and *now* — in some respects, though techno is no longer ‘the future’ as such, it still has something about it which feels like it is, hiding over the cusp of the horizon perhaps. Something about the mechanistic pulses and arrangements and illusions/allusions, the retro fantasies of Kraftwerk long since exchanged for Moroder’s promise of an eternal now pointing forward, why the bass line on “I Feel Love” never grows stale.

It isn’t just electronic music or parts of it which can hold this promise for me, in otherwards it’s not JUST the fact that it’s reliant on comparatively recent technology which makes it so compelling on that level. For instance, a hell of a lot of modern metal — as I’m slowly but surely reconnecting with that on a variety of fronts — is astoundingly of the now, no matter how steeped in Black Sabbath and similar compatriots many of them they are (and possibly because of it — if you accept Ian Christe’s argument in The Sound of the Beast, Iommi and crew invented something so new with their first album, and so not that far off from when the Kraftwerk/Moroder/SalSoul axes were finding their own paths, that the shock of the new really hasn’t worn off quite yet).

So perhaps I have little to say about Kowalski beyond simply that he knows what he likes and he does it well. But oh, how good it feels to ride on an energy wave into the future still, that it’s not quite over yet, whatever it is. Whether or not it falls under a dictate of pop or not, it’s still alive and recombining yet.

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