ArtOfFact Records in Canada are still bringing us some excellent European industrial over the pond to the states. One of the latest is Netz, a multimedia and sound project that has been producing electronic music since 1992. Their debut release, Auf Ewig, hit the streets in 1996. They've been quiet since then, but a new partnership with Temple Music now brings us to the Werk series of releases - Werk01 and Werk02. Both are distributed by ArtOfFact here in the states and Canada.
Netz perform with nods to both the music and the multimedia aspect of electronic art as well. The most recent was a production of Werk02 in Toronto and Montreal to celebrate the ArtOfFact CD release of the same name - this was in November of 2001, just a couple weeks after I write this. While I won't spend too much time discussing Netz's Werk02 release because here I'm reviewing Werk01, I will say that we'll have a full length review shortly of this release, and I do touch upon it in the Netz interview this month.
Let's take a look at what Netz have done here on Werk01. The first track, Systemstatus is an amazing opening with voices that could be vocals or samples. Bleeps that lead into complicated and wonderfully arranged electronics. Skinny Puppy fans, take note! Dynamic (cybercut) opens suddenly with robotic German that precedes subtle key taps and a swift beat. The bass line is amazing and the post-robotic vocals tie the track together into a cyberpunk thrillfest of boot tapping EBM. The original version is also included here on track 14. I prefer the cybercut for it's awesome bass line.
Also on Werk01 is the best nod and bow to one of the best science fiction creations ever put to print, silver screen and television. Yes indeed, I'm talking about Frank Herbert's Dune, and Netz take you through almost all of it. With an orchestrational opening, whispered vocals, ambient mixes and whistling backgrounds Netz take you on a mesmerizing journey of the novel in aural format. You can smell the spice, hear the worms, feel the wind and taste the sand. It's one of the longer tracks here on Werk01, and worth every second of space given it. It's downright beautiful. The only thing I didn't particularly like with Dune was it's abrupt ending.
Storm reminds me of SMP with it's jaded post-apocalyptic make up. Dodge the helicopters. Just in case you thought Netz could only create complicated rhythms for the sheer sake of pushing bodies around a trancey, near-mosh pit of dancefloor nightmare, Puppen will take you completely by surprise with it's laid-back groove. While the rhythm remains up front and fast, the surrounding chorales and occasional breakdowns tone it to give Puppen a more trancey appeal with the exception of some spots that lack the chorales and remind you that Netz are, after all, rivitheads and not trance DJs. Gefahr takes the moodiness of Puppen and injects it with pure Kraftwerk. Werk01 closes with a remake of In Strict Confidence's Industrial Love. Slow, moody, awash with various sweeping scrapes of sound.
In short Netz manipulate beats and rhythms, swiping them through neurotically complicated bypasses of aural amazement. They use such subtle means of controlling their music as volume, reverb - things that have been lost to the world as EBM stopped getting better and started getting only faster. Old arts are re-discovered in Werk01 and combined with modern intelligence, electronic gadgetry and mesmerizing complications.