Reality Tunnel

Swiss electronica artiste Bit-Tuner (Marcel Gschwend) has been steadily gaining attention for his dubby instrumentals since about 2008, with releases for Hula Bytes, Trepok Rec, Luana Records, Hula Honeys, and other labels. He does it using a mixture of digital and analogue sources, keyboards, guitars, samples, and (lately) field recordings, always driving his music forwards with powerful beats…most listeners and reviewers are addicted to his heavy bass effects, and he proclaims himself as sitting somewhere between “downbeats, electronica and Post-Dubstep”.

I found A Bit Of Light (OUS.002.CD) enjoyable enough, and I’d say his strength lies in his inventive, simple melodies, his generally “clean” sound, an attractive production sheen, and his attention to dub-lite effects. But there’s also something a shade too poised about his approach; he hits the right notes in the right places, but the melodies plod – ideas like syncopation or swing-feeling haven’t yet entered his musical vocabulary.

While on the surface some of this music may resemble dub, Bit-Tuner can’t generate the excitement or tension which was second nature to Scientist, King Tubby, or Lee Perry. He’s afraid of leaving gaps, yet that ellipsis is what dub thrives on. There’s an energy deficiency somewhere; he never breaks into a sweat, and seems to recoil from any sound which might be too rough or unprocessed to fit into his otherwise tidy and well-manicured landscape. If he was a town planner, urban Switzerland would be in danger of collapsing into a series of bland and soulless exercises in neo-classical architectural pastiche. From 18th January 2016.