If the eclectic electro label Kompakt can be identified with one “sound,” it’s most likely the stark quasi-house of Cologner Aksel Schaufler, a.k.a. Superpitcher. After a few years of experimental wheel-spinning, he’s back on the scene with his first characteristically Kompaktian disc in a minute and his darkest to date, easy. Despite the consistently pulsating, consistently unpredictable club beats, Superpitcher has never exactly been a ray of sunshine, and Kilimanjaro keeps it relentlessly icy and bleak.
After a church-bell intro, “Voodoo” establishes a mood of vague menace, with its accusatory lyric and slow-burning, dub-inflected track. But it’s a graduation anthem compared to the album’s balance, filled with hypnotic incantations about celebrating paranoia, frustration and loneliness. “Friday Night,” one of the more superficially upbeat dance-floor cuts, segues from “It’s Friday night / And I’m not dancing” to the repeated chant “Lack of entertainment!” The bouncy single “Rabbits in a Hurry” plumbs the horror that trails club-kid hedonism, its muffled vocal hooking on “You’ll get used to the confusion,” its goofball sound effects morphing into disturbing hallucinations.
And those are the relatively ambiguous tunes. The chilling “Who Stole the Sun” employs the LP’s titular mountain as a blatant metaphor for the cumulative psychological turmoil of protracted isolation, rendering its affected vocal less silly than menacing. “Give Me My Heart Back” says that over and over, with no signs of anyone making good on the demand.
If you’ve never driven through the Utah Canyonlands, I can’t recommend it enough. Headed east out of Richfield, you’ll see warnings of “No Services for 80 Miles,” and, indeed, if you gas up in Richfield, you fucked up. Cruising the winding mountain roads, you can run AM and FM dial scans and get absolutely nothing but hardcore static. It’s unforgettably bucolic and profoundly creepy. With no golden oldies or right-wing ranters to keep me company, I threw on Kilimanjaro. During the glossy, propulsive, paranoid, perfectly alienated eight minutes of “Country Boy” … well, I’m not implying causality, but while it was on, I got so lightheaded I had to pull over. I got so lightheaded I had to pull over. It remains one of my favorite songs of 2010.