Softland: War Againstt Error

SpezialMaterial, 2005

While Softland’s excellent 2003 album One Is a Very Small Crowd was reminiscent of videogame music, War Againstt Error [sic] finds Christof Steinmann branching out into more abstract fare. The opening track, with nearly monotone singing, is an odd start. The more instrumental tracks are better. “Moire” is soft, glitchy, and melodic. “All the Nows We’ve Had” successfully mixes plucked acoustic strings with layers of computer-generated clicks and beats. On “Huch,” distorted vocals accompany wandering cello and flute. It’s a unique, disquieting combination (which probably won’t lend itself to repeated listens). After a few short, discordant cuts, “Mlle.” marks a return to Small Crowd’s 8-bit aesthetics, adding a chorus in French and some garbled bass. The journey ends as it started, with a mumbled song. Throughout the album, longer tracks are interspersed with brief interludes named after latitude and longitude coordinates.

While I appreciate Softland’s experimentation intellectually, I have mixed feelings about the results. This LP’s not an easy listen. Sometimes this album’s charming, other times it’s grating. Still, it’s worth a listen.

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