Thursday, September 2, 2010
Kraut Fishing in America: Moebius- Tonspuren (1983); Holger Czukay and Konrad Plank- Les Vampyrettes 12" (1981)
This has been floating around on more than a few blogs for a while now, but what the hell, it fits with the theme of the last post and I desire an opportunity to wax, briefly, a tad rhapsodic about it. Moebius cut this record in 1983, and while he had worked on or produced a slew of Krautrock releases, including serving as one half of both Kluster/Cluster (with Roedelius) and the Moebius & Plank duo of the last post, this late-period record is actually his first solo outing. It is excellent and humble, a sterling collection of short instrumentals (Tonspuren translated means, "soundtrack", I think, which gives you an idea of the mood here).
Some have called it too slight to merit much worth, but if you are only interested in epic records of impeccable execution and concept, then maybe Krautrock is not for you. A lot of the best stuff is lurking in the murky bottom with almost-lazy electro-instrumentals and my-kid-could-do-that minimalism. To me, Tonspuren serves as a worthy follow-up to the Moebius & Plank records that just preceded it, and a magnificent callback to the sort of work he was doing with Cluster on the excellent, excellent Zuckerzeit (another record that has been called slight, lazy, or doodling, but has stood up as a classic of the genre). This record shows, again, that Moebius was one of the few German pioneers who was fully committed to pushing his craft, with guile and style, into and beyond the difficult territory of the 80s.
This 12" from Conny Plank (Krautrock super-producer) and Holger Czukay (of the powerful and amazing Can) is a journey to the absolute darkest side of the German sound. Carried by a thick, hurtful, and menacingly-- nay, terrifyingly-- deliberate bass repetition, and colored throughout by deeply slowed nightmare vocals, this is a rare sound item and richly evocative. It's almost like a chopped-and-screwed or dubbed-to-the-gills proto-Rammstein. It will certainly call to mind certain scenes from Lost Highway. But don't let those dubiously appealing descriptors stop you from grabbing this nasty little baby. One day, you will need this, and you will have it. It must be heard.