Since Italian electronic producer Gianluigi Di Costanzo first emerged under his Bochum Welt alias in the early nineties he’s spent the ensuing 25 years building a reputation for only using outboard hardware and predominantly analogue gear to create his tracks, which for the most part have firmly inhabited IDM, ambient and downbeat territory. While he’s been associated with the Rephlex label roster for much of the last decade, this latest album ‘April’ (originally released earlier this year as Record Store Day exclusive and now receiving a wider release) arrives on !K7. In some senses ‘April’ sits somewhere between a retrospective compilation and a new album.
While a few of the tracks collected here have previously been released on Rephlex though, they’ve never been previously available on vinyl and several of them appear in newly re-edited forms. Rather than offering any real new surprises, ‘April’ comes across more as Di Costanzo collating together a mixtape of his material that also gives the previously unheard tracks here a chance to see the light of day. In that sense, it offers up an ideal entry point for listeners previously unfamiliar with his smeared out and deeply nostalgic productions.
‘Garden (NYC Mix)’ comes across as emblematic of Bochum Welt’s more ambient / IDM-centred excursions as glimmering layers of ambient synth harmonics drape themselves over a stuttering drum machine rhythm and subtle traces of melancholic bass undertones, but in this case it’s the characteristic warmth of the hardware-based production that immediately sets it apart from the legion of glacial digital sculptors currently operating in similar terrain.
‘ROB’ meanwhile immediately betrays its Rephlex circa 2008 heritage with a wander out into flickering breakbeat-laden braindance rhythms and faded-sounding melodic synth sequences that sees the entire track getting distorted and filtered into near oblivion at points, while elsewhere ‘Flag (Take 2)’ offers up what’s easily this album’s most frantically chaotic moment as acid 303 squiggles and icy electro breaker’s rhythms battle for space with stuttering distorted vocal samples and spiky ring modulation.
It’s the more ambient-centred moments that make up the majority of the tracklisting though, with many of them offering up the most evocative and immersive material on offer here. ‘Lauren Canyon’ provides a spectacular yet understated example of Di Costanzo’s grasp of light and dark shades, calling to mind a darkening evening sky as lush ambient synths swell and bend around a dark lurking bass presence, the sense of grace being matched by a feeling of foreboding that sits somewhere between the more brooding end of Tangerine Dream, or perhaps SURVIVE’s more contemporary retro-cinematic explorations. While a lot of ‘April’ is likely to be well-traversed territory for veteran IDM / ambient listeners, this rewarding trawl through Bochum Welt’s tracks offers more than its fair share of moments of genuine beauty.