Roger Semsroth (Monographic)

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Occasionally, some artist appears from nowhere that nobody knows and that from minute 1 publishes with a music that is out of the normal in all possible aspects, from originality to the great sound treatment, anonymous characters that we tend to associate with other consolidated producers. A curious case of anonymity in contemporary electronic music is that of Roger Semsroth, this German producer got everyone to talk about him and to relate him to great figures.

The anonymity factor is a tool that if well used can be the best possible marketing resource, but unfortunately in recent years this promotional technique has become more widespread and the public is no longer surprised as before. Roger Semsroth began to publish works at the end of the 90’s with pseudonyms like Skanfrom or Television Set with a mixture of styles that oscillated between electro, synth-pop and minimal, but the big surprise came from 2004 when he began to publish as Sleeparchive, he did it with a quality in the productions that attracted enough attention and he only he signed to his record company, also called Sleeparchive. As everything was self-manageable, he did not have direct contact with too many people, which increased the mystery of his identity, which remained unknown for a few years. But then came the speculations and began to circulate this subject in many forums around the world, even granted the authorship of this mysterious artist to illustrious characters such as Richie Hawtin or Mika Vainio.

Electro and other subgenres related to this style such as electronics or electro pop were the main genres of Roger Semsroth’s early works, works he published before appearing as Sleeparchive.

Skanfrom was the first pseudonym of Semsroth, with this name began an early stage as a producer that began in the late 90’s with a few releases on its ADSR label.

Television Set is Roger Semsroth’s middle name which he adopts from an old Depeche Mode song. Television Set’s style is also inspired by Depeche Mode and other electro pioneers from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Both the analog rhythm boxes, bass lines and simple melodies sound with a great old-fashioned touch.

Television Set has published most of the releases in Generic Music, German record company that hosted for 8 years all the references of Semsroth with this alias. The first one was released in 2002, an EP called Telegin that preceded a second album release. Moscow At Midnight was released in 2003 and although it is an extensive work with 12 tracks, the duration of the cuts are in an average of about 3 minutes and it becomes a little short, but as far as style diversifies quite within the environment between electro and synth pop, but always remembering the 80.

Roger Semsroth grew up in Berlin and his first contact with electronica was linked to the post-punk scene that led to EBM, but this darker influence soon faded away as he began to work more intensively with acclaimed projects such as Skanfrom and Television Set.

It seemed that Semsroth was going to follow a single line with that electronic style that also drifted towards electro, but he was also a great lover of techno, and with the strong incursion of minimalism in the mid 90’s he found the right moment to explore a field that until then had been harder and that with minimal already began to be seen in another way, as another option to experiment.

When Sleeparchive’s first album reached the shelves of stores like Berlin’s Hardwax in 2004, the success and impact on the international club scene appeared immediately and well deservedly, and in the following years everything that would be published would continue to meet all the initial forecasts.

The first four launches launched Sleeparchive’s career, releases that were published on its label of the same name.

Sleepacrhive was born as an anonymous and self-managed project by Roger Semsroth himself, so very few could know the identity of this producer, and even more so relate it to an artist who had been working for a few years with styles derived only from electro, electronics or synth pop. Sleeparchive created expectation with this new alias, people knew his first works immediately and as quickly as his work became globalized began to grow rumors. Mika Vainio and Richie Hawtin were two of the characters who appeared as candidates, but there were infinite assumptions.

We link Sleeparchive to techno because it’s the one we’ve heard most about, but he’s also a great scholar of experimental and environmental textures. In 2007 he published an album together with Antti Rannisto where he shows a great capacity of creation and sonorous investigation, with this release he enters a completely different field to what he had been doing previously, and although he publishes this type of music in very few occasions, in 2018 he founds a record company called Nord Vest where he publishes 7 albums in a few months.

From 2009 Roger Semsroth declines his career towards the experimental but derives this facet to other names such as Governtment Bookshop or Civil Defence Programme, alias with which he signs a few experimental works. To support this new project, in 2009 he created another label called The All-Clear, where he signed experimental works such as Governtment Bookshop, Civil Defence Programme, Television Set or Skanfrom. The All-Clear was active from 2009 to 2012, but it is no reason to leave these aliases inactive, then continues to publish in other more common Sleeparchive stamps and even sharing references as in the case of Untitled, released in 2014 with two tracks as Sleeparchive and two more as Civil Defence Programme.

Roger Semsroth’s influences are very diverse, but it is with Sleeparchive where he shows more extremes in terms of style, diversifies with advanced electronics and techno with the same pseudonym, and just as he publishes a single with sound experiments, he also changes ends with a more forceful facet. We find these unforeseen changes according to each era.

In 2013 Sleeparchive becomes part of the catalogue of Tresor with two releases of mental techno very well planned where we find clear influences from Detroit, more specifically the style of Jeff Mills, who according to Semsroth himself has always been one of his musical references. This would be the tonic of Slepparchive’s bet to create techno, works that could perfectly publish Jeff Mills in Axis.

In 2015 Sleeparchive signs with the Dutch label Mord a great release called Senze Titolo with 4 techno tracks of structured rhythm. The EP opens with a track of the same name, which is also one of the best examples of everything that can be added on a blunt cadence of bass drum: the elements enter and when it seems that they will stay accompanying the whole track are replaced by others.

Sleeparchive’s production style varies by era, there are periods of time that only creates techno and other stages that are devoted to experimental electronics and research. He creates in 2018 new label called Norte Vest where in just a few months publishes in digital format 7 electronic albums, but in this case has nothing to do with experimentation with noise as on other occasions, has more to do with the ambient and harmonic landscapes.

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