Krautrock aficionados may be well-versed in the work of Timm Brockmann and Franz Bargmann in their more well-known guise as founders of the Berlin rock trio, Camera. The guitar and keys players left behind the guerilla gigs and pulsating beats a few years ago, and have now paired up for a more exploratory debut LP of synth-driven soundscapes. The result is not as night-and-day as you might think ~ the strong elements of pensivity and even melancholy drift above rhythms that are always pulsating, occasionally pounding.
Licht (“light”) is immediately warming, hiding its more experimental moments in the shadows of four initial tracks of infectious ambient electronica. After a brief lens flare of blips and chimes in “Aura”, second track “Deepmind” establishes a steady kick beat while a synth line swirls around our head. We are being nudged to jump up, to embrace the morning, but the tempo is too relaxed to compel us. This changes with euphoric “Horizont”, its urgent beat the first of several electronic echos of the motorik rhythm ~ propulsive and relentless. The infectious synth lines radiate but aren’t afraid to lag behind, humoring the energy of the beat and shredding guitar reminiscing over former days of krautrock aggression.
This first third of the record is a wide open space, welcoming the morning melodies of birds and warmth of the sun. From the fifth track we reach a built-up area of myriad texture and shape. Light still persists, but can penetrate only the geometric gaps, bouncing off metal and glass surfaces. The pace is more frantic, the rhythms more prominent yet changeable. Halfway through soporific “Prisma” the light fractures unexpectedly, leading us underground. Reverberating synths are snuffed out; a vacuous, growling ambience envelops. The discreetly buoyant “Sylvester” is propelled by a muted beat that morphs into the steady flap of butterfly wings. “Puls” is in the industrial zone, where a mechanized, lugubrious beat swallows us before spitting us out minutes later into a night sky of celestial, arpeggiated synths.
Amidst this is the strongest pair on the record. It starts with “Muezzin”, an unexpected but entirely welcome three-minute intrusion of Middle Eastern tones. The strumming is of mechanical intensity, while a metronomic beat like a devoted crowd of Muslims heeds a distorted call to prayer. But looming above everything is monolithic “Schatten”, the only track for which Brockmann Bargmann enlisted a drummer proper. For over 10 minutes, Achim Färber pounds through a tom-heavy, snares-off rhythm while subterranean drones and harmonic wails increase in intensity. The shackles of the motorik rhythm are here cast off ~ although still conveying a sense of tantric relentlessness, this is a tribal rhythm full of accents and syncopation. It is writhing, not rigid. It allows us to breath even as the drones threaten to suffocate.
They never do. Eventually the tower crumbles, and the flowing, somber “Hyper” pans over the remains. These musicians are no longer confined; they seek to explore wherever light touches. They are a tree reaching to the sun while paying homage to its roots. (Chris Redfearn-Murray)