While the sound in recent years has been rediscovered and recast in diverse contexts by a new generation of producers, Through The Cortex sees Fixmer gravitating toward a different kind of industrial-tinged electronics, led as much (or more) by analogue sequencers, melodies and ultra-saturated sounds of synthesizers than drums and percussion. Across eight tracks at a compact but varied 40 minutes, the LP touches on an aesthetic hinted at in recent Ostgut Ton releases (2016’s Beneath The Skin EP and 2017’s Force EP), revealing a sonic narrative through noisy, screaming synth/vocal riffs with a jagged, guitar- like post-punk sensibility.
Through The Cortex is techno with a voice – or rather multiple voices – guiding listeners through hypnotic, space- and social-themed terrain as a kind of dark soundtrack to darker days. The result ranges from the slow John Carpenter-inspired Escape From Precinct 13 funk of “Expedition” and the patient yet muscular stomp of “Fury” to the mesmerizing Suicide-like pop of single “Accelerate”, where Fixmer, using his voice as an instrument, chants the track’s ambiguous title in an invocation of systemic change/collapse.
Elsewhere, the story is told with more abstract and wailing vocals like on “Shout in A Black Hole”, or in the warm, entrancing chords floating across the stereo image in ostensibly changing time-signatures on “A Halo Somewhere” – the LP’s uncharacteristically kosmische musik come-down. The track, and Through The Cortex as a whole, reflect what can be described as Fixmer’s idiosyncratic take on both techno subgenres as well as the larger pool of electronic music in general. This broad approach translates into a sound that is not only difficult to pin down, but also one that lends itself to multiple listens.