Rosen EP: Ellen Allien
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
Rosen EP certainly has a thing for the extraterrestrials out there. Of course, this might come across as an obvious point. Firstly, there’s the artist’s name, with its bouncy ‘ying and a yang’, ‘Ellen and an Allien’ wordplay. And the cover itself looks like a still out of ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’, with the sci-fi hair and wistful, slightly cautious gaze at the camera. We can already see signs of ’70s-’80s electronic/new-wave influences, both of which will help to make this the eerie extraterrestrial exploration that it is.
We start off from the get-go with a thumping dance-beat and synthesiser motifs all around. A squelching, wet-sounding syncopated beat is used, giving the production the alien kitsch value that it knowingly goes for. Amid all the soaring synths and reverb-placed vocals, crackling through the distortion like some far-away being trying to make contact, there’s an almost reverence for ‘the great unknown’, giving us the mysterious ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ version of alien life.
Most of the sounds appear only partially realised and unclear, as if a door’s being half-opened into a new world, but we’re not allowed in just yet. All around we have crackling vocals, jagged syncopated beats and simplistic motifs that build up over a piece, made even more magnificent with loud sonic effects that seem to fill every empty space and crack in the texture. It’s all impressing on something more but remains too simplistic to have any of the answers in and of itself.
N2020 is more intense in terms of the beat, that thumping percussive sound that continues to trip over itself at times, giving the rhythm an unstable feel; a slight bit of danger on this new world. Again, the texture is bare, concentrating on the lower end and implying something esoteric and ‘other-worldly’. The synths are used for a similar effect, undulating back and forth, into and out of the texture, as if watching a hologram shimmer in the light.
KCKC shows it’s only gonna get worse, at least as close encounters go. The insistence of the beat is almost angry, regular but persistent, like something trying to be communicated when it’s only possible to do so with banging. The slightly smoky vocal synths give it a more club-like feel, but seeing all the sounds mix together is so smooth. The constant interaction between a sound and its own echo; that colourful mixing and shading of the timbres - feels almost translucent in how delicately it's treated.
In terms of electronic music, this is all that it should be. The sounds are smooth and the way a piece drifts to the end manages to take some of you with it, which is all you can really ask for in the end. It’s other-worldly in all the right ways and she knows how to make the production sound natural, not mechanical, as if we really are having an experience beyond our understanding. Definitely one for the electronica-heads and casual UFO spotters out there. Soundscapes haven’t sounded this sincere since the seventies.