Rene Hell, aka Jeff Witscher, aka Secret abuse, is all over the place, and it feels he’s dropping new releases each week this spring. “Porcelain Opera” must be the most substantial offering, especially if you manage to grab the vinyl edition with a bonus cd containing an album’s worth of additional tracks. There’s also almost univocal praise for this album. And while I think I see why so many people are into Witscher’s take on kosmiche synthesizers, “Porcelain Opera” might be the point where I’ve experienced at least some kind oversaturation.
It’s still worth pointing out that the six tracks on this album are different from, say, Oneohtrix Point Never, in that most of them are less spatial and more about time and development. The two opening tracks, “Razor. P+” and “Prize Mischief Hold”, are teasers in the best sense of the word: Even though they’re 6:40 and 3:40, respectively, they sound like the beginning of the greatest electro pop song ever made. Which, of course, never really takes off, but it is in keeping the listener interested and un-frustrated that you can really trace Witscher’s skill. The next piece, which is much shorter than its title “IV 18:54” suggests, does open the very spaces that we have been denied by the first two tracks.
Usually, however, Witscher’s noise background means that he is paying close attention to his analogue sounds and at the same time to the depth of his compositions. Experimenting with cables and – if the one sheet serves – potentiometers Witscher’s “Porcelain Opera” is staged to the sound of machinery itself. Bubbling synthesizers, a-rhythmic percussion and current pulses pile up to form the nine-minute album centrepiece “L. Minx”. Delicate and ferocious, “Porcelain Opera” may not be the seminal album that the buzz would have us expect, but it is illuminating some new corners on an already over-exposed stage. 7/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (16 June, 2010)