Rotwang: Awful

A release that sets expectations low on the way in (after all, the record’s called Awful), the self-deprecating debut from Rotwang is the kind of bedroom record that seems to have been recorded synthetically, rather than by a brokenhearted dude with an acoustic.

It’s an electronica record in the IDM vein, borrowing a little from jungle, ambient, drum ‘n’ bass and other areas as needed. Rotwang—named after the primary antagonist in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis—is a competent mixer and arranger who creates hooky sections of what could easily translate into ready-made art film themes, just a little heavy on the drums.

The approach, however, lends itself to something of a scatterbrained listen. In almost every cut, Rotwang introduces a melodic or musical idea, develops it, and then promptly switches gears to a rather different one with thin glue to keep the two together.

A few cuts integrate well, however. Closer “Mouseland” feels the most complete, with “I Am A Virus” as a close second. Ignoring that fluidity, however, “Colorized Moving Pictures” first movement’s rhythm rivals some of Squarepusher’s best jazz-style drum ‘n’ bass, and the first half of “Machine Organ” has a wonderful Selected Ambient Works feel before introducing synthesized vocals that bring it just a little out of its serene atmosphere.

In A Word: Promising