The Flexiwave record label relocated to Berlin at the end of 2014. Being on the other side of the Baltic Sea from their former base in Stockholm doesn’t seem to have changed the artisan label’s careful curation or eye for design. The proof comes in the form of Common Loss, a split album featuring Silent Em and Ortrotasce, which features five songs by each artist and a collaboration on the title track. As always, the Flexiwave team have picked out the kind of lower-case minimal wave material that would fill upper-case Veronica Vasicka’s headphones with icy joy.
Both acts have produced exemplary European coldtronica for this release, though they are actually American: on the left coast, Nic Hamersly issues minimal music as Ortrotrasce; on the right coast, Jean Lorenzo makes moody wave tracks as Silent Em. There was a time when getting these musicians together would have involved a beaten-up copy of the Contact List of Electronic Music and a lot of stamps, but life these days is less analogue than the equipment they use.
The tracks from Silent Em are high-tensile material, brittle and charged with kinetic energy: “Singular Malice” is uptempo, searing and phosphorescent, like UV POP played at the wrong speed. Ortrotasce’s contributions are equally compelling: “Order” provides a looping rhythm track with a simple pulsing bass line and a lead that moves between a couple of notes, but with the addition of growling vocals reveals layers of real emotional depth. Their joint track, “Common Loss,” is the highlight of the album, cued for the alternative dancefloor with heavy-duty beats and sequencers set to stun.