Tag Archives: krautrock

Stream: Espectrostatic – “Escape from Witchtropolis”

As soon as the drums come in on the song “Escape from Witchtropolis” you can tell exactly what is going to happen. It’s just got that perfect krautrock sound: the motorik beat, barely audible syncopated hi-hat and completely lacking in the drum-fill department. Some of the retro synth sounds remind of RJD2′s work to a certain extent. On top of all that I think that the track is perfectly named, with it’s winding, demented sounding lead line adding a whole new element to the mix.

There’s a lot going on across “Escape…” from the aforementioned brooding synths, to the bombastic percussion of “The Feral Kids,” which makes good use of the piano as a percussion instrument; those loud low end attacks really give you the force of the low fundamental with just a hint of the brightness from the upper partials. Colder synths prevail on “This is a War Universe,” working in all dimensions by adding a spaciousness to the recording. Though the synths are going direct, the piano has been recorded with a lot of room noise this time, opening up the recording dramatically. Still, though, “This is a War Universe” is largely a synth affair, continuing to capture the brooding atmosphere presented on previous tracks.

Espectrostatic also finds the time to play with form, shuttling from the more familiar structures of the beautifully contrapuntal, “The Obelisk” and the title track, to tracks that express an environment in their one-part form such as “Sinking into the Microverse.”

“Espectrostatic” is the solo project of Alex Cuervo of the Hex Dispensers. “Escape from Witchtropolis” is out now on Chicago’s Trouble in Mind records. You can purchase the album as a download from his bandcamp. The album is also available as a CD that comes in a gatefold miniature LP-style cardboard sleeve, or as an LP from the Trouble in Mind site.

Stream/Video: Corners – “Maxed Out on Distractions”

Los Angeles area band Corners just released “Maxed out on Distractions” at the beginning of the month; an album full of post-punk’s angular approach to rhythm and echoed guitars combined with the analog synths of chillwave, and even some honest pop hooks. The songs that make up “Maxed Out…” are all coming from the same dark world of Joy Division, but on tracks like “Buoy” they work hard to break out of those constraints, chugging along with a more aggressive guitar riff that sounds closer to The Blind Shake than it does Ian Curtis and co.

With every song it becomes clear that this is what we all keep hoping Interpol will bring us, yet they disappoint us time and time again. Corners are coming in to fill the void, picking up where “Turn on the Bright Lights” left off. Corners, instead of trying to fill every possible second with complex and cerebral contrapuntal constructions, are happy to let the silences and ambiance speak. For example, the extended outro of “Against It” makes a point of capturing and even highlighting the environment in which it was recorded, creating and solidifying the overall aura of the album.

“Love Letters” centers a bit more around the bass and synth than some of the songs on the first half of the album, but I think that the guitar is actually the most important part of the song here. It’s used so sparingly that when those few notes come ringing in over top of the synth you realize that it’s what had been missing all along, or maybe not missing, but it becomes what you as a listener want to come back. The guitar, second only to the voice, is maybe the most affecting part of the song, it’s the hook.

Each track finds Corners taking a slightly different approach. Title track “Maxed Out on Distraction” is at first driven completely by bass and drums, while “On the Run” is clearly a guitar-centric instrumental that borders on surf-rock at some points, and “Love Letters” brings the focus to the vocals.

You can listen to the album in its entirety above from the band’s bandcamp page and check out the video for “Love Letters” above as well. The album is out now on Lollipop and Burger records as a CD, LP or Cassette. You can, of course, also purchase it digitally from the bandcamp page (but why would you do that? That’s boring. Buy a physical copy). You can also find their West Coast tour dates below. If you’re in Washington, Oregon or California, definitely go check them out.

 

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“MAXED OUT” WEST COAST TOUR
10/25 Observatory, Costa Mesa, CA (Beach Goth Party)
10/26 Continental Room, Fullerton, CA*
10/27 Milk Bar, San Francisco, CA*
10/28 Chillanova, Davis, CA*
10/30 Doug Fir, Portland, OR*
10/31 The Cannery, Everett, WA*
11/1 TBA, Seattle, WA*
11/2 Sam Bonds Garage, Eugene, OR*
11/3 Duffy’s Tavern, Chico, CA*
11/4 Townhouse, Venice, CA*
11/5 Federal Bar, Long Beach, CA
11/8 Regent Theatre, Los Angeles, CA (w/ Connan Mockasin)

  • w/ Drinking Flowers

Stream: Klaus Johann Grobe – “Between the Buttons”

Let’s keep that kraut-rock thread going. Today I’ve got another bass-ostinato driven psych-kraut-synth-rock track. This one is coming to us from a Swiss duo going by Klaus Johann Grobe (should it be Große?…anyway…) this track is from their latest LP, “Im Sinne Der Zeit.” It’s another long track, but this one isn’t really that much of a slow burn, it’s more of a steady continuous groove. The bass, with it’s perfect tone that sounds like it’s taking its cues from War’s “Low Rider” stands right out front, guiding and harnessing everything else that swirls and shifts around it. When it eventually drops out for about 30 seconds around the 2:39 mark we have the only break in the song with a dynamic that suddenly shifts down to next to nothing but doesn’t waste time building back up, and instead just jumps right back into things.

Sure, the bass may be the central thing, and the easiest element of the track to focus on, but there’s also some interesting keyboard work on what sounds like a Farfisa cutting across steady harmony and shifting it ever so slightly in a move to help change up the sound a bit. It’s things like those subtle shifts that holds a track like this together and allows it to go on for 10+ minutes while still making sense, not becoming redundant.

“Im Sinne Der Zeit” was released earlier this week (April 29th) by Trouble In Mind, and you can grab a copy here. The color vinyl was limited to 250 (and is sold out) BUT the black vinyl is available & unlimited! They’ve also just recently released a 45 called “Traumhaft” that can be purchased from their site. You can also follow the band on Facebook.

If you are in the EU you can also catch them live later this month:
16.05.2014 London UK
17.05.2014 Liverpool UK
18.05.2014 Northampton UK
20.05.2014 Leeds UK
21.05.2014 London UK
22.05.2014 Manchester UK
23.05.2014 Stoke UK
24.05.2014 Reading UK
06.06.2014 Winterthur CH
07.06.2014 Schaffhausen CH

Stream: Inutili – “Music To Watch The Clouds On A Sunny Day”

Psych-rock jam. Italian psych-rock jam.

It was a few months ago (I think, to be honest the days all sort of blend together) that I wrote about a new tape that came out on Crash Symbols by Julie’s Haircut, an Italian psych-prog band that creates complex and lush arrangements across intertwined songs to create a work that is more or less album oriented. Well, here is something similar, but different.

Inutili is also a band from Italy, and they are also constructing epically long tunes, but they are approaching the composition of those songs from a much different angle. Inutili, which by the way means “useless” or “pointless” in Italian, is creating their music on the spot. Instant composition coming to life organically through improvisation. In the track above, a 19+ minute rocker called “Fry Your Brain,” nearly the entire jam is held together by a bass ostinato. Similar in fashion at the outset to something like Neu, or Can, the track gets noisier and noisier as it continues. Guitars thrash about, the drums become increasingly bombastic, erupting into frantic fills that expand until the last few minutes collapse completely into utter cacophony. That distorted, near white noise  of overlapping everything adds a bit of a garage rock dimension to the whole affair.

And below is another track – different release, same general principle. “Satori” gets down to the noise a little faster, and is a little less bass driven at first. At about 5 minutes in there’s a breakdown, ideas are gathered, things are regrouped, and the band starts to gel once again and takes off.

“Music To Watch The Clouds On A Sunny Day” is out now from Aagoo records and “Satori” is from the “Satori/Useless Asshole” album that comes to us from Boozy Records and Bat Shit records. Each label, for that latter album, released a limited run of 100 copies that feature different artwork. The Boozy releases are sold out, but there are still copies available through Bat Shit records.

Finally, if you follow the link to Soundcloud from “Fry Your Brain” you will find that the track is available for download.

Stream: Castle If

I’m going to stick with the theme of electronic music this week I guess. Though for the first time in a bit I’m going to be looking at some music from another country: the far away foreign land of Canada.

Castle If sculpts some beautiful Kraftwerk-esque songs with some other strange tidbits thrown in. On “Neuwellen” from their 2012 releas “Zwei Hände [Part 1]” the mandatory kraut-rock ostinato is firmly in place, but as it spins out there are some vocals and wandering synths lines introduced. Psychedelic analog synth kraut rock with, sure, a slight tinge of new wave as the title suggests. It’s new wave through the lens of experimental krautrock.

Searching through a bit more of their discography “CUT” opens up with the minimal, but significantly more dancey track “Discussion.” That new wave influence shines through pretty clearly on this track, but the atmosphere one would normally expect from new wave is turned on its head with the addition of distant shrouded vocals.

You can hear tons more  over at their bandcamp page. There’s enough dark and moody new-wave inflected kraut-rock to keep you busy for a long time. And if you are in Toronto then you are in luck because Castle If is playing tomorrow night at Double Double Land (209 Augusta, and if you can, then go to Sneaky Dee’s on your way, or afterward. It’s less than a km away and I’ve been craving a King’s Crown lately and it’s a bit out of the way for me) opening for Julianna Barwick. It’s an all ages show, so there’s no reason for you to not be there.

 

Stream: Sacred Product – “Wastex”

First up is a track off the new 2×7″ from Sacred Product. “Ride Back,” with its demented minor-mode descending guitar line and a background of noise that sharply cuts in and out resembles in a lot of ways the sound of Sebadoh. The lackadaisical vocals, tossed of nonchalantly and similar in style to Thurston Moore in some of the earlier Sonic Youth releases. The one-part structure upon which it is built makes use of extensive repeated motives, but spaces them out to create shifting layers of musical material throughout. Basically, the track manages to sound slightly evil due to the disjunct motion of the harmonies, while holding to reliable repeated gestures that smooth over the entire track.

You can stream another track below that comes from an earlier EP, released through Albert’s Basement as a cassette release limited to 100 copies. This track is “Iron Coffin” and comes from a similar approach with a thicker layer of sludge laid over top. A significantly Lowered tuning adds to the distortion and sludge as the song plods through 7+ minutes of single-part structure.

And finally “Tram and Train” can be heard below, also displaying an affinity for the krautrock/garage-rock aesthetic.

“Wastex” is available as a double 7″ and the EP is probably not available anymore, but you can head to Albert’s Basement facebook page to find some other cool stuff.

Stream/Download: Thighs – “Thighs”

Thighs - "Thighs"
THIGHS – “THIGHS”


Toronto thrash punk is alive and well, apparently. THIGHS sound like Tangiers having a seizure. The disjointed, monomaniacal, throbbing rhythms with ultra crunchy guitars and shouted vocals is nothing but pure energy and raw power. A song like “Tunnelr” covers a lot of ground in it’s 2 minutes, going from stomping, mosh inducing potential energy to the release that comes toward the end in the form of a 3 against 2 rhythm that sounds down right groovy coming out of krautrock-land where they began.

Each of the 9 tracks are similar in their sound: dominating bass pushed almost to the point of distortion, the guitar’s tentative grasp on pitch. Think the rhythm section of “They Threw Us In A Trench and Put A Monument on Top” era Liars with the guitar-as-extension-of-the-drums noise blasts of “Drums Not Dead” era Liars.

It’s actually remarkable how quick THIGHS goes from noise to total silence. The start-stops are so crisp and punchy, placing the intermittent silence at equal footing to the noise-stomp that encloses it, for example in the track “Horse.” A song like “Meat” pushes the mechanical kraut-rock sound to an industrial grind, driving that one chord into your head one measure at a time.

The self-titled album is available as a download on bandcamp for any price you care to pay, though I would suggest grabbing the limited edition (only 100 made) vinyl from Not Unlike for only $15. This should be on your turntable right now, loud enough so that the walls blow out while people 2 miles away call the cops.