Berlin krautrockers GLEN have made an evolutionary leap from 2017’s CRACK. While that LP featured two long instrumentals and three vocal tracks, PULL! is all instrumental save for the physical only bonus track; and the quartet’s sound has grown far more intense. The loose theme involving seafaring, shipwrecks and waves, with appropriate art, only adds to the appeal.
As each track averages ten minutes, there’s plenty of room for these jams to unfurl. Most are built upon a central riff that plunges into various permutations, like adventures on the sea. Every return to the riff causes a rush of adrenaline, the thrill of recognizing a lover or friend. And man, does this album rock. One can imagine entering into a trance at the arena (and wouldn’t it be amazing to have such a concert on a weather-worn whaling ship?) The cover art may be a knot in the wood or the eye of a whale. As both of the main composers also work in film ~ one a filmmaker and the other a film composer ~ the cinematic connections are clear. An excellent use of the stereo field produces the feeling of being on deck, watching for dangers starboard and aft.
“Korinth” is swift and propulsive, conjuring images of a barker in the hull of a slave ship, yelling “PULL!” The ship is speeding through the waters, breaking through the waves. Even when the guitars reach a lull, the tempo continues unaltered. There is no slowing this mission, or this track. By “Ahab,” one feels the craze, the mania, the bloodlust. Even if the captain senses a shipwreck, the harpoons will be at the ready, the ship battling beast and sea. It matters not if this specific whale be Melville’s Moby Dick, The Knickerbocker‘s Mocha Dick, or a more contemporary mammal. But as the album is purposely freeform, one may extend the hunt to the realm of metaphor: to any runaway pursuit, from action to opinion, that resists reason in a headlong plunge to oblivion.
There is no time for reflection when one’s rope is connected to a breaching behemoth. But those who purchase a vinyl or CD copy will receive an alternate ending, a cover of John Cale’s “Buffalo Ballet.” This turns out to be an inspired idea, adding depth to the narrative. Thanks to this track, the rock becomes rock and roll, the ship returning to port, the bedraggled sailors finding their way to land. Here there be lyrics, but only in the second half, sleeping in the midday sun after so many months at sea. A relentless eye continues to watch from afar. (Richard Allen)