This double record from 2000 carries a helpful note on its spine for record store employees who aren’t quite sure what it is:
“File Under > Minimal Techno”
I’m not entirely sure I’d describe Rechenzentrum as “minimal,” certainly not after having just recently listened to Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports. Unlike the truly minimal side of electronic music, Rechenzentrum is definitely something you can dance to, though more of a groove that the frenetic BPMs you might hear at a rave.
Like so much electronic music, I find it very difficult to describe the sounds of Rechenzentrum. If I wait more than 30 seconds it all seems to slip away from my memory like a dream in the morning and I’m left trying to recall what struck me so much in the moment. So forgive me if this is short (or totally absent) of meaningful descriptions of the sound.
The first record is very chill – this is certainly closest to the “minimal” part of the description. The second disc, though, picks up the pace. This is more dance and less ambient, with faster beats (probably reaching the fastest point on “Camera Silens / SFB 115”) and more interesting, experimental sounds, like the heavily modulated speaking on “Submarine” and the legitimately industrial sounding “Samurai.” I prefer the second record, but it’s not entirely fair to compare the two, which could easily be mistaken for completely separate albums by different artists.
One of the intriguing elements of the original lineup of Rechenzentrum is that it included a visual artist. The group played a ton of live performances in the early 00s, with carefully composed video clips/films accompanying each song, a truly integrated multi-media performance. Given how much I enjoyed the music, I would have loved to see one of those shows, though at that time I’m not sure I would have appreciated it as much as I would today.
While I couldn’t find the album for free anywhere online, it is available on iTunes, so you can at least get the flavor for it there.