Schwefelgelb keep the pulse of the underground alive on new EP, ‘Der Rest Der Nacht’

In Magazine, Reviews by Editor

Image by Jannica Honey

This far into the era of lockdown, the relentless thud and rattling synths of 130BPM hard techno feel like a strange fever dream or the sound of a memory from another lifetime. Never before has the pounding snarl of the sound of the underground felt so out of context, no longer something familiar, no longer a part of the (sometimes) weekly ritual of getting lost for 48 hours straight on a dance floor surrounded by like minded melophiles. To learn then that German techno duo Schwefelgelb have just dropped a new four track EP released through their n-PLEX label seems absurd. Surely the notion of Schwefelgelb existing outside of those spaces we used to feverishly frequent cannot be the reality of our present moment?

And if you happened to think perhaps, after all this time, surviving without the rave would be possible, then Der Rest Der Nacht is here to remind you of what an insanely ridiculous notion that is. Across its four tracks, Der Rest Der Nacht sees Schwefelgelb craft sledgehammer pieces of techno that beg for the grime of a nightclub. It’s very much in line with their previous offerings; the pounding is austere as ever, colossal and domineering to the point of brutalism. The melodies are stark, repetitive and hypnotic. On Wie Viel Haut, the bass is squelchy and rubbery and on Lichtenberg-Figur there are blaring, 90’s synths that are ludicrously fabulous. The beat remains mostly unchanging across the EP, and from the first moments of opening track Impulskörper, it becomes clear that the beat is the soul of the project. Der Rest Der Nacht reads like a DJ set in this sense, an exploration of a percussive pattern and how different textures come to life when layered on top of this. By the time Horizont arrives to close Der Rest Der Nacht with a slight shift in time signature, it feels like a natural conclusion to the whole.

While Der Rest Der Nacht may not present anything significantly new from the duo, the music seems to take on a whole different context in light of the circumstances. Where other artists over the past year have presented outputs which look towards accessibility for the body in spaces of domesticity and isolation (music to cook dinner to, to take a bath to, etc.) Schwefelgelb have refused to give in to this transmutation, choosing instead to keep the pulse of their dormant world alive. In this case, Der Rest Der Nacht is a reminder of what is to come beyond the present; that once again, we will find ourselves in the dark, smoky basement of an abandoned power station on the outskirts of the city, moving as one to the beat of Fokus. For now though, be warned that the neighbours may ask you to turn it down if you’re playing this after curfew. 

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