I met Thomas years ago at a record store and we've been friends ever since. Throughout that time and our many discussions about music I've seen/heard him grow as a producer, as an artist, and as a listener, which is so essential for making something of one's own. Thomas has taken his time to learn more about the music that has become his focus - what one is supposed to do - which parts of that should be adhered to and which parts should be left alone. He has had the opportunity to learn more in the field, so to speak, playing shows on an increasingly regular basis, allowing him to hone what he's doing in front of people and not rushing to release anything until he was ready.
The first track Thomas sent me that got this release going was "No Room For Words", which was co-written with his friend and collaborator Paul Seibert. Its easy feel and upbeat-but-laid-back piano chords just seemed completely right, and completely right for Microcosm. What I initially thought would be one or two tracks with a remix turned into five originals (sans remix) and what we're presenting to you here. Arriving at those five tracks was a lengthy process, both because there was a lot of revision and because Thomas was always sending me new material which would inevitably knock an older track off the list.
The momentary things are what jump out to me in these pieces. The acoustic guitar hook in "Cold Sweats" (which was edited from source material provided by Kit Dicker) or the lapse of the rhythmic accompaniment in "Bottlerock" into something that is more reminiscent of NYC in the early 1980's than of Detroit in the same period. His particular take on the themes of house and techno music reflect his perspective, his personality and choices, infusing the frame with a wealth of edited acoustic instruments and warmth, which doesn't belie the inherent funk in his arrangements. Found house is a perfect description as fragments of voice, bottles, sidewalks, drum sticks and all manner of sources play comfortably with piano, guitar and bass in a setting that fields an array of influences and pays equal homage to his home of New York City and his love for Berlin.
"On his debut EP, Thomas Hildebrand delivers five superior samplings of quintessential Microcosm music on this digital-only (and first in two years) release from the NY label. The producer's style perfectly complements the aesthetic established by the imprint's past releases (Hildebrand's propensity for found sounds and shuffling rhythms two of many key affinities), but it also personalizes the found-sound Microcosm approach with bold flourishes that give Hildebrand's music a highly personalized and eccentric character. In keeping with the label's aesthetic, the NY producer assembled the minimal techno-funk tracks by merging samples of voices, bottles, sidewalks, and drum sticks with natural instrument sounds (piano, bass, guitar). Nevertheless, bass lines are the release's common thread, with each wildly different cut anchored by the instrument's low-end throb.
Directly referencing James Brown in its title, "Cold Sweats" springs to life as an industrially tinged stepper but then broadens out when Hildebrand embellishes the tune's funk-house pulse with the glisten of acoustic guitar shadings and a tasty guitar hook. A minimal bass pulse is the funky engine powering the slinky 4/4 groove, urban field recordings, and chattering sound design in "Berlin Liebt Dich," while a chugging beat pattern and plaintive piano melodies form the core of "No Room For Words." During "Bottlerock," perhaps the EP's strongest cut, a subterranean bass line and shuffling rhythm anchor an upper flotilla of shuddering smears, thumb piano, and laughter fragments in a track that grows progressively more African as it develops. The sum-total of sounds proves arresting in the best sense of the word, and elevates the cut into a heady sphere that's leagues beyond minimal.
Hildebrand's a natural fit for Microcosm as, like label head Ezekiel Honig, Hildebrand sees the NY landscape as a limitless resource of potential musical material, and plunders the physical world in order to create settings that work as satisfyingly in the club as at home. That it at times resembles Honig's own Microcosm material is borne out by the fact that I Repeat Myself Often came together following a lengthy process whereby Hildebrand, in consultation with Honig, amended and refined the five tracks that now constitute the release. All such details aside, let's take a moment to say how good it is to have Microcosm back with us after a two-year absence."