The Baltika Years documents a decade of Ben Zimmerman’s work using primarily a single computer, the Tandy DeskMate. Working on that kind of scale, and with that close a level of engagement, Zimmerman gets in really deep, into both his own soul and that of the computer. Double LP on Software Recordings.
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- The Baltika Years by Ben Zimmerman
8/10 Laurie Staff review, 04 June 2015
Some real audio detritus here from geek-muse Ben Zimmerman courtesy of Software. I didn’t realise until recently how literal the label’s name is, brimming with unashamedly ‘computer’ music, micro opuses by micro chips. For Zimmerman and Lopatin, the older the computer the better too, with many of the sounds on The Baltika Years sounding like the digital equivalent of garage rock.
Highly melodic and strung together with completely bonkers sequencing, this record shows Zimmerman’s ideal musical world through the grainy, pixellated lens of an imperfect machine. I could see Richard Ayoade choosing this guy to soundtrack his latest film about an uncanny love between two sentient Gameboys who struggle to talk because they’re just too erratic and one is running out of batteries - that’s the inevitable ‘trouble’ section of the film. But the similarities between this and a quirky indie film are bizarrely there, the unexpectedness combined with the weird feeling of bemusement whenever anything happens make The Baltika Years a turbulent but constantly interesting listen, with little jingly melodies emerging from the digital noise and 8-bit perc FX with a fluid motion that is at odds with the completely clinical nature of it all.
Not really sure what else to say, it’s crazy and a shiny diamond. For those that enjoy computer conversation, look no further.
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