Tabs Out | Nils Quak – Rolltreppen im August

Nils Quak – Rolltreppen im August

1.28.20 by Ryan Masteller

Nils Quak’s been around the block (and no, that wasn’t an intentional rhyme, but I’ve left it so you can see how skillful I am), having released stuff on, among others, Audiobulb, SicSic, Umor Rex, Cosmic Winnetou, Sacred Phases, Phinery, and “Not On Label” (which I’m presuming was an upstart around the release of Quak’s 2013 tape “Infinite Folds”). Here he lands on Kolobrzeg, Poland, label Plaża Zachodnia, a bastion of ambient and electronic experimentation. Because Quak is also an ambient and electronic institution, the pairing is as apt as it gets. 

“Rolltreppen im August” is German for “Escalators in August,” a strange juxtaposition of indoor technology and time of year. I figure you can ride an escalator anytime, regardless of month, and it would be the same as any other month. For example, if you’re at the airport and you need to get to another level, you may be wearing a coat if it’s winter or shorts if it’s summer, but the interior climate of the building would be the same. Are there any outdoor escalators? I guess at sports stadiums, etc., but you don’t go to those year round. Quak, what are you getting at here?

Maybe he’s playing mind games with us, and that’s OK, because I think he’s playing mind games with himself too, programming his synthesizers and allowing the sound to lead him wherever it goes. The sound trickles across the tiled floors of long, wide, empty rooms, like abandoned 1980s malls or abandoned urban convention centers (with tiled floors). Where’d everybody go? Nobody knows, but Quak’s tones burble like ghosts in corners and flit around the rafters and skylights, moving with ease from one level to the next and back. Quak’s exploring these empty spaces and imagining the concept of absence within them. Sometimes he rides the escalators to see what sounds he can coax from the different levels.

Just don’t let in the zombies! Too scary. (So are ghosts.)

Edition of 30.

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