CEM - Music For Spaces CD

CEM - Music For Spaces CD

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You couldn’t be blamed for expecting the first music release by Cem Dukkha to be a raw rave soundtrack for orgiastic dancefloors. After all, the co-founder of Herrensauna—a stalwart reprieve from Berlin’s normified dance scene—has carved unique apertures for the global, queer electronic underground. But Music for Spaces is far from the club-ready productions that he and his party spins for freaks looking for catharsis. These are delicate, vertiginous works of sound art that wilt when touched.

Far from tunes or tracks, the three pieces on Music for Spaces are more like sculptures, set in sparse fields of slow-growth eeriness. Indiscernible sonic creatures scurry past. The works were conceived for various performances and exhibitions by Cem’s partner Mauro Ventura; to create them, Cem relished the squeezing of simple sounds into a palette of textures and the occasional motif: Manipulated guitar, scant pianos, field recordings, and rococo orchestral arrangements converge into environments that literally evolve with every listen.

Though Cem loves the craft that has catapulted him through the international underground, he worries that DJing is sometimes more akin to the service industry than the arts. “This is a new way of expressing myself that isn’t through DJing,” Cem says. “Making music is much more vulnerable and personal.” Born to Turkish parents in Vienna, Austria, Cem (pronounced like “gem”) grew up playing in punk and black metal bands. When the pandemic hit, Cem found himself wanting to integrate all the tools he’d acquired along his musical journey, while shedding the DJ’s function as a clock for good times.

The effects of Music for Spaces on the listener range from disaffected ennui to ecstatic contemplation, but there is a mix of human and nonhuman on this CD that blurs such distinctions. Shimmers, gurgles, other-dimensional buzzings—this music is bizarre and untranslatable to any dancefloor we can currently imagine. But perhaps it’s time we do.

Label: Psychic Liberation

Genre: Experimental

Released: 2023