Review

Dolphins

40G

Pinkman • 2023

If you choose to make electronic music today, the sea of possibilities spoils you for choice. It feels like there are more DAWs, presets, samples and stems than cat pictures on the internet. This hasn’t helped to ensure quality, but rather led to an over-abundance of watered-down genre soup that lacks flavour and recognisability. There are exceptions, of course. Benedikt Frey has been around since the early 2010s – and, like Nadia D’Alò and Menqui, he seems well aware of what has happened with streaming and the now quasi-automated production of tracks from the retort. 

In contrast, the rule of thumb for their debut »40G« could be summed up as »less is more«. Whereby the »less« refers not so much to the reduced volume and output levels, but to the timbres and samples used. This album definitely needs to be heard with the volume turned up. As Dolphins, the three of them create a stylistically diverse but instrumentally coherent and equally powerful sound design, which at times channels the long-silent Dust Brothers, and at others sounds like a carefully selected cross between Popol Vuh and The Crystal Method, and in the next moment conjures up echoes of Pye Corner Audio’s »Black Mill Tapes«. 

»40G« is also tagged accordingly in the relevant databases, ranging from »Abstract«, »Cosmic« and »Big Beat« to »Leftfield« and »Downtempo«. Somehow you can also hear the tribal ambient from tracks like »More at Night«, »Shwoozy« or »Spacecat« when the bald milkshake gets to work. More important than the stylistic classification, however, is the remarkably idiosyncratic tenor of this album, which manages to avoid deconstructive contortions while still sporting an unmistakable signature.