Microhouse Legend Carsten Jost Is Back with a Gentle Bang on New Album 'Perishable Tactics'

Stream the Dial boss’ first album in 17 years.
February 3, 2017, 4:13pm

Hamburg native, and now New York resident, David Lieske is better known to most of us as one half of the founding fathers of Dial, a record label he founded in 1999 with friend Peter Kersten. Together the duo—better known as Carsten Jost and Lawrence, respectively—quietly reshaped the sound of contemporary European electronic music.

Though the imprint might be thought of by most as a label that specialized in a certain kind of pristine, crystalline, icy-hued deep-leaning and melodic take on house and techno, typified by stunning releases by the likes of Efdemin and Pantha Du Prince, Leiske and Kersten always thought of it different. As Leiske put it bluntly in a 2015 Resident Advisor feature on Dial, "It's not a house label, and it never was."

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With his own interests stretching beyond the limits of the club—he released a black metal album last year, alongside running gallery spaces in both Berlin and New York—it isn't surprising the Lieske finds the house association slightly uncomfortable. After all, over the years Dial have released folktronica records, R&B singles, and piano-led cover versions of "You're my Mate" by Right Said Fred.

For better or worse, Dial is a label that became, unintentionally perhaps, pivotal to the microhouse story, alongside the likes of Kompakt and Ladomat 2000, thanks to releases like Lieske's own "Make Pigs Pay." That strain of dusty, musty, house paved the way for an entire generation of nominally-indie-leaning music fans to embrace the mechanistic joys of dance music. The 2001 LP, You Don't Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows, a certified classic of the genre, was followed by a sporadic series of 12"s, the last of which arrived six years ago now.

After a 17 year gap, Lieske's back with a brand new album on the label. Perishable Tactics is a sombre, melancholy affair, that drifts and dips, the musical equivalent of headlights peeking in and out of thick fog. We're delighted to be bringing you an exclusive stream of the whole thing below, alongside an interview with Leiske himself.

THUMP: After a 17 year absence from the format, how did it feel going back to making albums?
Carsten Jost: Since my last album, I have been making music regularly but rather slowly. What inspired me to think about a second Carsten Jost album was working on Deathbridge, a record by Misanthrope CA—the black metal band I formed in 2015 with my boyfriend Robert Kulisek. Last year we had rented a half decayed Mansion on the beach of East Hampton in the depth of winter for one full month to record it. It was a really intense and wonderful experience and it had been the first time in years for me to just work on music for such a compressed amount of time, and it really motivated me to try and finish Perishable Tactics. It wasn't easy but when my friends, who run the fashion label Eckhaus Latta, were setting up their showroom for their Spring/Summer 2017 collection in my gallery and I had nothing else to do, I used the fashionable and highly energized atmosphere in the office to finish a few tracks that have been laying around for years on several hard-drives and ancient computers and completed this new album in just one week.

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What's the ideal setting for a first listen of Perishable Tactics?
I would always say that the music I make should be listened to in a club at high volume, although the club that I have in mind here does probably not really exist. I myself am actually not a big fan of nightlife. I don't drink or do drugs, I am mostly terrified by masses of people and I hate every situation that I can not really control which is probably why I became a DJ in the first place.

I think a great place for listening to music, in general, is a car. Last year Rob and I went on a few road trips through the USA to get to know its rural parts a bit better. I felt as an immigrant to this country I should get to know its people and circumstances, outside of the major city that I live in a bit better. One of the biggest pleasures of this trip was listening to music while ever changing landscapes were flying by on both sides of the car.

I've always found your music oddly sensual. There seems, to me, a real kind of longing to it—an icy romance that's just on the verge of melting. How do you see your music?
I am kind of an icy person and not very sensual in real life. Music is a way for me to enter an emotional space within myself that is usually not easily accessible for me otherwise. That said this "entering" is very far from happening consciously. When I make music I really just follow my instincts. I'm trying to create a pleasurable moment, a pleasurable stimulation for myself. It is very selfish by nature I guess and sometimes I feel I shouldn't even share these pieces of music with others because they are technically not very well made, often kind of sloppy in their execution and just doing their bare minimum to not completely fall apart but they work for me and I really like to listen to them.

When you look back on your life, will Dial be your proudest achievement? Not many people get to say they ran one of the best record labels of all time…
This is an odd question. Pete and I started Dial in 1999 when I was just 19 and ever since Dial, and our close friendship, have been a big part of my life and I am very happy that both of these things, that I hold so very dearly to my heart, have prevailed all these tumultuous years. Today I am just in my mid-thirties and I don't really look back at my life in a nostalgic way as I feel it is pretty much happening right now, so why look back? Also, I would never say about myself that I have archived anything or that Dial is the greatest record label of all times or any of these things. I feel there are a lot of other record labels that are way more important than Dial and that invented and developed the sound we became fans of in the nineties and on whose ideas we based our own music. Underground Resistance, Sound Signature, Ibadan, Wallshaker Music, FXHE, Moods and Grooves, Soul City just to mention a few of the most immensely important ones that made all of what we did possible.

Finally, was "microhouse" a term that anyone who made what we think of as microhouse actually used?
The musical achievements I am using until this day as the foundation of my expression all go back to African American musicians, producers, people who worked with record labels and distribution who made this sound possible and accessible. It is through their hard work and historical innovations that we get to enjoy this music and work with it today. All attempts to compartmentalize and reorganize it into different micro-genres only takes away from their original achievements, which is the music that is HOUSE!

Perishable Tactics is out on 10th of February via Dial