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Christian Hornbostel’s Liber Novus’ LP Dreams Up New Electronic Underworld

The wonderful thing about being an untethered music fan is that I’m not required to ‘sell’ this album, say positive things, give reassuring artist affirmations, expected to be sycophantic, or make this review snappy and clever for marketing purposes. Nope, I’m not anything more than an electronic music fan asked to listen to an album and give an opinion.

Many will no doubt know Christian Hornbostel already, his music, style or even his progression from house/tech-house to an altogether purer form of techno, especially in recent years. So, that said, there’s probably no requirement to spell out each individual track, nor conjure cunningly worded phrases to explain percussion, basslines, ARPS, FX and other musical jargon for the component parts that make up electronic music. So, what more is there to say?

To begin with, one suspects that this particular body of work has evolved over some considerable time, maybe even years. In fact, there is the very possibility that this project has been source of great anguish and deliberation for the artist, right up to the point of completion. I like the thought of the artist locked in some constant, nocturnal battle, wrestling in the dark of night with his creative demons and muses!

‘Liber Novus’ or ‘New Book’ as its Latin translation suggests, is very much a new and dark chapter in the creative mind of Christian Hornbostel. Latin permeates this work, not just the track names, but something infinitely deeper as everything about this work leans towards the archaic, the alchemical, the philosophies of the ancients. All this from electronic music I hear you ask?

Since plunging into the dark pool of Techno over the last few years, Hornbostel appears to have grasped the nettle and fully embraced the genre. Certainly, a review of recent releases shows his versatility continues unabated, Hornbostel remains an incredibly efficient producer with an enviable back catalogue spanning 30 years. His creativity is both lauded and well documented, so what makes this different from all that has gone before?

This, by its very design was deliberately crafted as an expedition into the darker recesses of Hornbostel’s musical mind. His intent; draw you (the listener) into a lusciously dark, labyrinthine construct, leaving you to wander the dimly lit passages between chambers, where each track lies hidden behind a heavy, velvet curtain that swathes you as you enter. Take your time, ponder context and meaning while always thinking that at some point, you will need to escape! There is a definite mood-shift in this body of work, like Hornbostel has finally discarded the airiness of previous genres and created something more akin to his own profound, electronic underworld. This album is wonderfully dark and hypnotic, has extraordinary allure and an ability to engage the listener from the very start. It has melody, discordance, ranges between minimal to driving, industrial trance-like techno and every bit his own story.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s imperfect. Some tracks felt over-long and fizzled out without feeling complete or having told the story they initially promised. However, among the 14 tracks only 2 or so didn’t secure my full attention. It’s not for me to say which, as a reviewer should never really dictate what you listen to.

I’m sure it’s not ‘by coincidence that this album is named after one of Carl Jung’s most deeply, esoteric works. A carefully constructed mix, interlaced with narrated excepts from CG Jungs – Red Book/Liber Novus or poignant readings from the Hermetic texts would round this terrific album off just perfectly. 8/10 

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