Überall EP






The three-track EP Überall (meaning everywhere), released in the month of July in 1999, is Wolfgang Voigt's first release under his All moniker on his own label Profan which he founded in 1993. The Kompakt label hadn't even been launched back then, but the typical All sound is spread, well, all over each of the three untitled compositions. Of particular interest are the dense synth thickets full of accompanying basslines, some of them even club-compatible, and the intriguing mélange of melancholia interspersed with a wealth of particles full of pleasant anticipation and a positive view of the world. The tracks glow in bright colors, and thanks to the omnipresent Dub structures, they sound voluminous and full, just complete, leaving no room for thinner constructions or the rising fame of the Glitch movement to take over. Released in-between Voigt's releases Königsforst (1999) and the final piece called Pop (2000), both of which he produced as Gas, Überall is much mellower than the already brightened up Königsforst, but still a tad gloomier than the saccharine technicolor of Pop. And it's a prime example of a minimal approach which is camouflaged due to the various synth layers that are laid over each track.

Überall 1 is the gateway to the melancholic world of All and already a good indicator of the masked minimal style. The song presents all of its ingredients right from the get-go, and in an almost audacious move, Voigt doesn't present anything more (or less) than a warped three-second loop that is repeated throughout the runtime of almost five minutes… again and again. This short loop should better be interesting at worst or entrancing at best in order to enchant the listener. And Voigt succeeds in this regard, displaying the quirks and stylistic particularities of his All moniker in three seconds: reversely running synth pulses are intertwined with the typical wonky cymbal and hi hat artifacts that usually occur in backwards-played loops and bewilder the ears of the listener so much. Dubby bass droplets round off the loop, add punchiness and verve to the whirling audio waves and accentuate the golden shimmering hubris of the synth waves which have the characteristic traits of both stabs and mellow pads. Überall 1 creates a hypnotizing flow despite – or because of – its rudimentary nucleus. There is really no progression, further development or spiraling ornaments to be found, just the bare loop, so to speak. But this loop functions as a source of heat, silkening the slight harshness of the chopped nature of the reversed hi hats. It's a proper Ambient track and lively enough to shake off any dolefulness that is caused by the attached nostalgia.

Überall 2, in contrast, is a bubbling track, nearly foaming over due to its scattered, weirdly phased pulses. Launching with a pitched-down phase of a deep two-note synth loop, it is sped up and oscillates permanently between different states of tempo, tonality and timbre. A pumping 4/4 beat is introduced that functions as the sole consistent base frame in the quirky process of tempo shifts. The accompanying cymbals are treated in the same way, thus becoming either glacial or mollifying when they are in their slower state. This composition is much more lively and exciting, it doesn't reach the balmy warmth or positive aura of the first track, but is nonetheless very melodious. This is yet again an utterly minimal track, but instead of a permanent repetition, Voigt adds a second device of change and dynamic to it, namely the tempo pitches. While these pitches become formulaic and foreseeable themselves, they add a perceptible vividness to the track which is yet again a proper Ambient take, as the 4/4 beat never distracts from the synth structures. Finally, Überall 3 is a beast of over nine minutes runtime, but a wonderful composition with clear-cut Funk remnants that were later revisited in All's Alltag 1–4 of 2000, released on Kompakt Records. Again, change and progression are eliminated, everything is featured from the start: a gorgeous classic drum kit-imitating downbeat meanders along, while a four-note wah wah-filtered melody on the Funk guitar is juxtaposed to it. A monotonous synth sweep, taken directly off Überall 2, gives the loop its finishing touch. This sweep is mellow and encapsulates a welcome dose of analogous vintage sounds. The runtime of nine minutes is probably overly long, as nothing ever changes, but since this is the most melancholic offering that still retains the endemic mild-mannered outlook of this 12" release, the third Überall track is the charm, as expected.

Wolfgang Voigt's All project has always been among my favorites. It's melancholic, true, but way less baneful, acidic and intimidating than the majority of the material released under his multiple aliases, including his compositions as Gas. Sarcastic people could reduce the real duration of this EP to a mere 20 seconds. That would include all the loops of the three arrangements and the various states of the ever-morphing, but also ever-repeating Überall 2. From a constructionist viewpoint, All's debut 12" release is overly simplistic. The created flow, however, is hypnotizing to the maximum! It is surely ironic that the most varied track, Überall 2, is also the shortest take, whereas the funk guitar-laden, unchanging final piece trembles along for over nine minutes, but that's the curiously funny side note Voigt admixes with his sound sculptures. In comparison to Voigt's final release as All, the aforementioned Alltag 1–4, Überall looks admittedly pale, as the synth thicket of the latter release is even lusher and brighter, but the camouflage tactics of Voigt have to be applauded: he really only sells the listener 20 seconds. The punchy basslines and Dub remnants really do add plasticity and thermal heat to the mix, making this a great debut. Voigt's All project isn't just another one of his various nicknames rather than a pet project to my ears, naturally inferior to Gas, but reaching a close second place. 




Further listening:

It's almost beyond belief, but at time of writing, the 12" Überall EP is still – or yet again – available on Kompakt. You can listen to it in full on their website.




Ambient Review 120: All – Überall EP (1999). Originally published on Sep. 12, 2012 at