• Alex Cortex
  • Pomelo
  • 2011-10-17

It has been eight years since German techno don Alex Cortex delivered an artist album so Kihon comes at a time when the man who came to prominence in the mid-nineties will be looking to make his mark again. He’s appeared on renowned imprints such as Kanzleramt, Klang Elektronik and Baby Ford’s PAL SL, but this release comes from Pomelo whio have an impressive roster including Ben Klock, DJ Stingray, Marcel Dettmann and Silent Servant in their ranks. The album title Kihon relates to Japanese martial arts and translates as ‘basics’ or ‘fundamentals’, and Cortex’s basics of psychedelic immersion into sound rank him as another fine producer like his label mates.

Fun to explore until Cortex forgets to follow his own well-laid paths.

The 11 nameless tracks that make up Kihon are distinctive in they follow a vision of their creator to be clean and crisp. The opener is stripped back ambient electronica with a psychadelic synth that leads into two ponderous tunes but the album becomes instantly more vibrant with track four’s fidgety harmonies over a pumping beat. Cortex drifts into a deep dream on track five before experimenting with an acid vibe that evaporates into another dreamlike soundscape on track six. The 10 minutes of track seven would have benefited from a chop halfway through, though Cortex reveals he wanted a sleepy pause as track eight drifts out of the speakers.

His final trio of soulful melodies are far more engaging with inventive synths and stabs attacking the softly softly approach he adopted on the previous duo. It makes for a memorable end to a warm and welcoming album, yet for all the uplifting moments Kihon lumbers at times to the point Cortex is pacing without getting anywhere. It means Kihon is fun to explore until Cortex forgets to follow his own well-laid paths, then you have to hang on until he gets back on his singular track. Cortex gives us a wonderous experience at times, a laboured one at others.

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