I vividly remember putting on my headphones and pressing play on Dedekind Cut’s 2016 studio album $uccessor (ded004). I was sitting in my dorm room, lights off, my roommate asleep, just existing with the music. Everything about it was breathtaking— the way that the textures delicately evolve, floating over the surface only to result in sporadically sectioned moments of harsh, destructive noise patterns sent me into a state of curiosity clouded by an eager uneasiness. Tracks such as “Instinct” and 'Fear In Reverse' showcase DC’s ability to manipulate elements of a vast sonic range, employing and mixing coarse and polished production techniques with clear expertise. Pieces such as 'Descend From Now' and '46:50' have the ability to send any listener into a state of profound tranquility. The compositional direction constantly goes right when I expect it to go left, but does so in a way which was pleasing to my ear. This new breed of industrial ambient music was and still is absolutely captivating, and Fred Warmsley, formerly known as Lee Bannon and currently as Dedekind Cut, is to thank for that.

So, this being said, I pounced at the opportunity to get ahold of Dedekind’s newest full length, Tahoe, and furthermore it is safe to say I had tremendous expectations for the project. My anticipation was only heightened after Warmsley teased two tracks from the album, 'Tahoe' and 'MMXIX'. The way in which the former track creates an almost organic, earthy atmosphere by blending ambient compositional approaches with samples from nature constructs the illusion that one is floating, gently gliding across a vast, barren landscape, only to be met with open arms at the end of the path. The latter track is perhaps my favorite on the record— refusing consistency, the song jumps between tonalities, textures, melodies, and even keys. The way Warmsley intertwines natural, acoustic elements such as the human voice with glittery, oftentimes discordant synthesizers is stunning. Between 'MMXIX' and the adventurous 'Spiral' later on in the album we are given something relatively close to what can be found on $uccessor, yet with newer, more refined compositional qualities.

However, despite my enjoyment of many elements found within Tahoe, I did find myself missing some of the rougher, more adventurous elements exhibited in Dedekind Cut’s earlier work. In place of this we are given more sounds and progressions which boast purely ambient qualities, which, although pleasant and oftentimes enthralling, did feel a bit lacking in terms of sonic experimentation. Tracks such as the opening “Equity” illustrate Dedekind Cut’s more tranquil side, with graceful loops delicately evolving into a mesmeric pool of sound and emotion, however it can and does feel a bit more like a sketch than a completed piece. “De-Civilization” runs into similar issues— beginning with a regal, symphonic chord progression which is soon accompanied by icy, ghostly synthesizers, we more-or-less hear the entirety of the track in the first 90 seconds.

There are certainly times when Warmsley finds the right balance between atmospheric escapism and sonic fluctuation in Tahoe. “Hollow Earth” enters rather ominously with heavy, life-like drone patterns. Once they fade out we are greeted with what sounds like a traditional church choir, which is then drowned back out by some intense, industrial instrumentation and fuzzy, distorted bass. Times like these are me remember why I fell in love with Dedekind Cut’s work in the first place— it makes me think just as much as it makes me feel. Over twelve minutes in length and oozing with innovation, the piece makes one feel as if they were transported to a different planet and given the opportunity to observe the depths of what could be known without ever knowing if it will be known. But that’s the beauty of Dedekind Cut; we never know what’s going to happen. Instead, we are merely left to wonder and observe.