Album of the week: Extrawelt – Fear of an Extra Planet

In a musical world where it seems sounds and artists have to constantly adapt and evolve to stay relevant, we take some comfort that a group like Extrawelt exists. With their latest album “Fear of an Extra Planet” they close out a trilogy of albums for Cocoon Recordings that started back in 2008 and through which Extrawelt’s sound has remained an unmovable presence.

Steadfast in their resolve, Arne Schaffhausen and Wayan Raabe have been creating unprescribed melodic Techno in an idiosyncratic artistic voice for the better part of a decade. Undulating synthetic layers play through expressive melodic ridges in an effort climb some hedonistic heights while drum machines and minimalists percussive elements clatter along at galvanising speeds. Although six years might have passed between “Fear of an Extra Planet” and their previous album “Aufruhr”, they’ve simply picked up where they left off.

Their sound remains anchored in the brooding melodic realm of German Techno where they dwell amongst acts like Dominik Eulberg, Stephan Bodzin and Konstantin Sibold. They execute tremendous control in the studio as layers pile on progressive arrangements that never get bogged down under their own weight. New elements  join existing pieces like they’ve been there all the time and disappear into the next, creating a constant development through each track. There’s a sonic thread between the songs, but each title appears to be composed with its own unique narrative, independent from the album, but contained within the same world.

From the 3LP format of the album to the constant percussive insistence, Extrawelt remain close to the dance floor on the album, with slight references to disparate aspects of its history including elements of  Electro, EBM, and Breakbeat in the tracks. There’s a cinematic indulgence and spectacle to the tracks that definitely install them in the context of an album rather than a single , which by “2084” reaches grandiose, space-opera proportions.

the titles and the manner in which the songs are arranged suggests there might be some contextual prose informing “Fear of an Extra Planet”, but what remains the core appeal of the record is the fact that it sounds like Extrawelt, and between Schöne Neue Extrawelt and Fear of an Extra Planet it’s the consistency that makes this a timeless record.