3 out of 5
Label: Central Processing Unit
Produced by: Tim Koch
Tim Koch remains an utterly compelling – and confusing – artist; the kind of creator whose work I will continually seek out, but then enter into whichever EP or album without any possibility of expectations, except that… it’ll be worth my time.
And Volplaning, Koch’s 2022 release on CPU, is that, for sure. The term – I’m looking it up m’self, not schooling you – is to ‘glide toward the earth in an airplane with the engine cut off;’ if we take that as an m.o. for the album, it fits: all of the tracks have a very distinct beat, but then a tendency to drift once established, as I imagine my focus cutting in and out of panic and calm during the described controlled fall. But such a fall is also finite – it ends at some point – and this is where Volpaning loses me / confuses me a bit, as Koch keeps kind of returning things back to the initial state at the start of a new track. Each song is sort of the same fall, but with a different emotional state: excitement, or level-headedness, or chill, or angst. It’s a strange mix of everything feeling quite different but also quite the same, and set the tracks in a middleground of each one having that aforementioned distinctiveness, without any song quite emerging as a single.
The sounds here are often centered around percussion, and the range of tones used is fascinating, with a handful of tracks starting from a very organic, live instrument-sounding beat, before Tim layers in synths and an electronic beat. Elsewhere, we get cold electro, somewhat acidic chirps, and tracks that bounce between it all, one step at a time. It’s undoubted that you won’t bob your head approvingly at much of this stuff, but it also fades into the background fairly easily, the album extending beyond (I believe) an hour over its 12 tracks, and perhaps not always using that that time “effectively”, rather following the theme of gliding – coasting on a beat.
But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing overall, especially if intentional, and Volplaning does not feel unintentional at any point. Perhaps that is the linking theme of Koch’s work: confidence. Every track here blisters with it, though that doesn’t always lead to the most directly impactful tune.