Superior State is the second Leitmotiv Limbo album released by Port Adelaide’s De la Catessen Records, after the 2022 CD Spiritual Disturbance. This time, Leitmotiv Limbo’s isolationist studies have been bumped to vinyl, which feels like the perfect format for these twelve miniatures. The project of Adelaide artist Elijah Värttö, Leitmotiv Limbo has, over the past few decades, tracked a history of quietly insistent experimentation, embracing several technologies – invented instruments; analogue filters; drum synth – to sketch desolate, cavernous structures, sometimes performed in reverberant spaces, such as church halls, which gifts the recordings a ritualistic air.
For Superior State, Värttö is more intently focused on rhythms and pulses, resulting in a beautifully sculpted collection of poetic vignettes. You can hear some trace elements, here, of the minimalist techno-not-techno of artists like Pan Sonic, or Studio 1/Freiland, in their reductionist ethos. But also, in the insistence of Värttö’s attention to detail, and his careful focus on a delimited number of elements, the twelve pieces on Superior State recall the work of mysterious German outfits Werkbund and Mechthild Von Leutsch, or the solo explorations of artists like Asmus Tietchens, Achim Wollscheid and Goem.
It’s intensely evocative music, recalling all kinds of phenomena, both man-made and natural: electricity pulsing through wires; the humming of the central nervous system; the quiet hiss of deserted computer laboratories; the pulsations of plant life; the molecular vibration of atoms. Värttö has tapped into the poetry of the programmatic on Superior State, and he’s sharp in his grasp of the significant effect that the incremental shifting of a few simple parameters can have on the overarching structures he’s building here. Indeed, that poetry is echoed back in the beautiful liner notes by Adelaide artist Michael Hocking. Alive, flickering with incident, Superior State is energy transmitted, coursing through the collective’s veins.
Hand-numbered edition of 300 copies with liner notes by Michael Hocking.