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Issue 200

Patrick Langley on Visonia et Dopplereffekt’s ‘Die Reisen’

‘It would be easy to cry to this tune, but difficult to dance to it’

BY Patrick Langley in Fan Letter , Music | 08 FEB 19


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‘Die Reisen’ (2014), by Visonia et Dopplereffekt, is a perfect piece of music. Its beauty is a function of its starkness: nothing could be added to improve it. The beat is as basic as walking. A punchy kick, a dusty snare – pure rhythmic austerity. Funereal synth chords, drenched in reverb, swell and fade around the drums. It would be easy to cry to this tune, but difficult to dance to it. It’s too slow, too mournful. Still, for all its melancholic qualities, ‘Die Reisen’ engulfs you in fizzing, foggy, purling sonic textures, which have a deeply soothing – uplifting, even – effect. It’s a tune you sink into, like a fever or a lake. Thirty seconds in, the bassline hits: a juddering dirge of electro notes descending through a cycle of semitones. The bass loops back, loops again, hypnotic and relentless. Meanwhile, the melody swoops over it like a broken siren, rasping, distorted, screeching, lost. None of this sounds remotely uplifting. So, why do I find ‘Die Reisen’ so reassuring? Perhaps it has something to do with the marriage of the epic and the intimate. Listening to this tune feels like watching the horizon catch fire with a friend at your side.

Patrick Langley is a writer and critic based in London, UK. He is a contributing editor of The White Review.