[Labo Labs] Cristian Huepe | Blue Line (Loud Dust Recordings)

Are "pounding drums" and "squiggly synth sounds" what come from long hours contemplating the hidden mysteries of space and particulate matter?

 

Hmmm. Of all the spaced-out, funky, house-style electronica recordings made by theoretical physicists that I've heard, Blue Line is certainly one of them.

Okay, it's the only one. You'd think a theoretical physicist like Cristian Huepe, who dabbles in music when not doing research in "nonlinear science, statistical physics and complexity," would be able to come up with music that stretches the boundaries of what we've heard before. After all, the press release tells us, Huepe's intent is "to create musical landscapes on virtual worlds that have different logics and sensitivities, while following the same principles (if not the same rules) as ours."

That sounds intriguing, but what we actually get on Blue Line is some funky dance music. I looked at my notes after listening to this disc all the way through, and I'd written "funky beat" several times, as well as other corresponding phrases like "pounding drums" and "squiggly synth sounds." Is that what comes from long hours contemplating the hidden mysteries of space and particulate matter?

The track "Blue Line Singularity" was partially inspired, we're told, by Huepe's essay "Dynamics of the convergence towards a self-similiar (sic) blowup solution in a simplified model of aggregation…" Said track has a good beat and you can dance to it. Huepe's rather tiresome rap, however ("Indicating component acts/ Improved design with numerical facts/ Finite time, sublime rhyme/ Fresh excuse for galactic minds") just fails to create any sense of awe; in fact, it may inspire titters in some.

I did enjoy the contrapuntal percussion on "Jz.2" and the inventive synth work on "Live.electronic.1 (Thought Police)". Funky stuff, man, funky stuff. And certainly Huepe uses every modern recording technique available to make his work sound fresh and exciting.

But there's something missing here, and it has to do with the content of the tracks themselves. There's little sense of anything very interesting being expressed, and the sound of the music itself, while undeniably catchy at times, is hardly revelatory. Unfortunately, the packaging and the presentation have an air of pretense that inevitably makes the music somewhat of a letdown.

Huepe was part of the music scene in Chile for many years, where he fronted a jazz-punk outfit called Malavida. In the latter years of the previous millennium, he performed in Paris, recorded a few early projects, and completed his PhD. He's been in Chicago since the year 2000, developing his interest in music and physics in tandem. His studies and experiments may well result in a fascinating recording someday. But Blue Line is a pretty earthbound journey—rhythmically enticing at times, yes, but hardly inspiring a sense of wonder. C | Kevin Renick

RIYL: Paul Oakenfold, BT, the DJ at your favorite club

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