By dispersing electric guitar signals through a lattice of software to create absorbing soundscapes, Christian Fennesz became one of the most influential electronic music producers of this century, ranking alongside template-makers like Aphex Twin and Wolfgang Voigt.
This stature emerged from Endless Summer, the 2001 masterpiece in which the skeletons of forgotten pop songs seem to bob on the surface of a great digital sea, catching rays of fading sunlight. The record suggests what it might sound like for machines to be not just sentient, but to be like us: forgetful and wayward, sleepy and nostalgic, unfathomably complex.
Endless Summer made Fennesz an icon, but his whole career reveals a brilliant listener who innately grasps how to capture and contextualize the best parts of any sound, whether alone or collaborating with legends like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Jim O’Rourke. In 2019, he returned to basics—holding noise and melody, stillness and chaos, in rapt tension—with his first album in five years, Agora, an engrossing saga that caused Pitchfork’s Mark Richardson, in a Best New Music review, to reaffirm Fennesz as electronic ambient music’s “great romantic.” Throughout the album, he reflects the way we experience, store, and remember in our fragmented world—as bits of choppy data, ordered not by sequential time but by overlapping circles of feeling.