The donut has its toroidal shape for a reason. It's a slippery fucker, and the hole is there so you can hold on to it during preparation and indulgence. The Dutch version of the donut is called oliebol - literally, ball of oil - and for some probably cunningly commercial reason it lacks the hole. It's just a slippery sphere. Irresistible, but unmanageable. Another Dutch treat is Distel. Although irresistible, the music they make is nothing like an oliebol. The sounds they sculpt are, invariably, perfectly distinct and tangible to such an extent that the first time you hear them, they sound oddly familiar. Highly unlikely, since they are all prepared according to a secret recipie and did not exist in the material world before Distel coerced their modular and digital devices to produce them. Distel's got the definition and clarity of Kraftwerk, coupled with a vividly imaginative repertoire that surpasses the German stiffening lumbar foursome by leaps.
You might have heard people liken Distel to bands such as Coil or the Knife. With the release of the new 7" EP nord, however, it becomes strikingly apparent that Distel has a unique voice, sonic vernacular and style of their own. When this gets out, read my oily lips, people will start likening stuff to Distel instead of the other way round.
The sleek black 7" has got two snappy songs on side A and a more temperately paced song for a B-side.
The first song, nord, is a skilful juggling of analog & digital, harmony & detune, atomic, tonal waveforms & noise of various flavors. Not to mention one of the most catchy, bouncy, spacious yet intimate set of jittery frequencies that has soared through the ether for a long, long time. Fills the heart with joy, and the most delicate seasoning of arrhythmia.
The second song, zelv, is a haunting, unraveling tale of exceptional lyrical and musical consonance. It's also full of non-gimmicky, diegetic musical surprises. Snappy, pneumatic and impossible to listen to - passively.
The third song, bogarting the entire flipside of the single, is called raaf. It would be a crime to try to describe this song without going through some of the basics first. Back in the 16th century, Galileo Galilei penned something he called the Principle of Similitude. Contrary to what it literally means today, this theory set out to highlight the physical limits and dissimilarities of the natural world. A tree can grow very tall. But it can never grow taller than about 100 meters, due to mechanical constraints. These constraints can be bluntly explained as: any increase in size of a physical body results in the surface area increasing as a square, while the volume and corresponding weight increases as a cube. A flea can fall from any height without sustaining any damage upon landing. A cat can fall from several meters up a tree without damage when it hits the ground, since its body surface is like a parachute in relation to its tiny weight. An elephant, on the other hand, can not even fall one meter without breaking its legs, essentially making it a feature, not a flaw that it can't jump. Galileo's theory was a sucker punch to the widely popular Hermeticism at the time. The 'as above, so below' reasoning suffered a severe blow, when Galileo showed that there was a striking dissimilarity between different tiers of nature, with mathematical proof to boot.
What a welcome turn of events, then, that the final song of the new Distel single manages to finaly break the asphyxiating Galilean envelope that has constrained the world for so long. Who's to tell how tall a tree must grow? The heavily stomping stride of raaf succeeds in breaking Galileo's Principle of Similitude simply by being like an elephant nimbly neurodancing. The clean, clear-cut sounds that make up this song all seem to emanate from real appliances and gadgets. Things that have another primary function, like, perhaps, a vacuum cleaner. Closer scrutiny reveals these are not real-world sounds at all. They're just that tangible and eerily pseudo-familiar that their sonic qualities are equated, in our premature minds, with functional mechanical qualities. Another up yours to Galileo.
This single is a sure-fire musical milestone. Hear it for the first time and realize, the reason it sounds so familiar and obvious is not because you have ever heard anything like it before. Rather it is because, in the future (readily present to the sentient), you will have listened to it thousands of times already.
released April 23, 2015
All Tracks written & recorded by Distel
Mastering by Ruud Lekx