It's mad how stripping things back can lead to such interesting and vibing results, especially in a realm like footwork (and footwork-adjacent music). Sun People once again proves why he's one you HAVE to keep on your radar, and Outlines once again delivers the goods. Don't sleep on this one, folks!
Simon Hafner aka Sun People is well known to fans of fast tempos, having released music on labels such as Exit Records, Rua Sound and Through These Eyes. Hafner presents a wide range of music and guest mixes on his monthly Sub FM radio show and is also releasing music and doing A&R for the label Defrostatica.
His latest cassette on the Guides label, titled Joyful Discontent, is a tribute to minimalism, referencing the works of Frank Bretschneider and Mark Fell. The starting point for this release was a JMT VDR-1 drum synthesizer, characterised by its intuitive aspects, its limited sonic capacities and the challenge to stretch the machine's possibilities. This one instrument informs the structure of the album, fixed in tempo, track and total length. Reducing his tools to a bare minimum, Hafner explicitly refers to specific genre traditions inherent in this radical form. Structurally and sonically, the spirit of clicks & cuts (e.g., Komet’s ‘Rausch’) can be heard, as well as influences from dub, ambient and minimalist drum&bass and footwork.
In his thinking, however, Hafner goes further. The idea of interlocking all the pieces, complementing the overall grid of constraints, provides the frame for a playful exploration. The result was also fuelled by intuitive action, such as when a single gesture and decision changes the direction of a process that takes place in real time. When composing, despite the track’s live act structure, he produced recordings that could function as parts of a jigsaw puzzle that can be rearranged freely in any order, thus opening the way for a reinterpretation of the whole. This is also why the album will be available in two versions, both as a mix of combined tracks, and as eight individual pieces that make up the whole.
Despite so many formal constraints, Joyful Discontent still sounds accessible. The pieces produced by Hafner move in the direction of Mark Fell’s compositional approaches, where music is devoid of evoking emotion, rather, aiming for a neutral and non-imposing environment for the listener.