Anstam is Berlin resident Lars Stowe who adopts that familiar trait (at least in the last year or so) of unequivocal anonymity; something which suits his frankly terrifying, almost apocalyptic amalgam of grime and techno.
Building on the momentum of exposure and credibility that has no doubt built - following appreciative nods from that new sage of stark, sonorous electronic dance music, Thom Yorke - the release comes at an ideal juncture, especially as his union of the more uncompromisingly dark elements of grime, techno and dubstep so suits this transcendental and unsettling time of year.
Dispel Dances begins well, with intricate percussion that sounds like something lifted from some kind of tribe of the occult when combined with a John Carpenter-esque synth line(if John was feeling particularly intense) alongside bass which prolapses and plummets. Though that latter feature may lead many to believe this is another awful endeavour in which low frequencies are assimilated into moronic bouts of distasteful dubstep discharge produced by oblivious Neanderthals – this isn’t the case. ‘Watching the Ships Go Down’ and ‘Statical’ both evidence something much more intelligent and measured in Anstam’s arsenal.
Anstam complements his heavier side with manic, complex percussion and equally frenetic, unpredictable electronica which endows the music with a more engaging sound than your conventional bass-heavy ventures. At times, the album is reminiscent of the eerie, hypnotic tumult of Demdike Stare though less experimental – perhaps if Anstam indulged his more radical inclinations Dispel Dances might prove more significant for him.
Anstam sounds more comfortable in the chaos. But if the build and descent from this was more considered it would add a great deal to his sound and for this reason I’m dubious as to whether this will be something consistently revisited. Instead, it’s more likely this will prove an overture – provided those affectionate smooches from Yorke continue and they produce something more rounded in the future.
Reviewed by Tim Wilson