LP  REVIEW

 

Gudrun Gut and Joachim Irmler   ‘500m’   (bureau b) Released  8th  September  2014

Doyens, and for that matter mavericks, of the more cerebral and avant-garde boarders of the German music scene, otherworldly evocative organ grinder Hans-Joachim Irmler and his visual artist musical polymath siren, Gudrun Gut, join forces for a mesmerizing electronic trip.

As a founding member of the mighty irritant, heavy mentals, Faust in the 70s, Irmler’s keyboard hovered ominously between the alien and sublime. Continuing to bare the name – existing in a disconnected alter-dimensional timeline with an alternative Faust that features fellow founder members, Jean-Hearve Péron and Werner ‘Zappi’ Diermaier – Irmler founded an eponymous named studio, used by a who’s who of the German and beyond experimental electronica and classical scenes: from Cluster to the Modern String Quartet. Whilst the man himself has collaborated both wide and far, recently releasing the Flut LP with Can’s drum titan, Jaki Liebezeit on his own label, Klangbad – set up 15-years ago to originally release continuing Faust projects, but since expanded into a full-on label and festival, duty bound in ‘nurturing’ ‘genre bending’ music.

Gudrun, no less active, moved to Berlin in the mid 70s. An early member of the industrial strength Einstürzende Neubauten, Gudrun would go on to appear in and help form a number post-punk and electronic bands, including Mania D, Malaria!, Matador and also bring out a solo debut effort, I Put A Record On, in 2007. She is also head honcho at the labels Monika Enterprise and Moabit Musik.

 

Together, both artists create a collection of transient progressive techno moods. Developed in two stages, the congruous collaboration first improvised at Irmler’s lightheaded inducing Scheer, Baden-Württemberg located Faust studio – the name of the album alluding to the giddy effecting altitude of the studio, 500 meters above sea level, which gave Gudrun a constant sense of dizziness – before Gudrun refined and added her own techy, scuttling and nuanced drum loops, back in her own space. These recordings would then once again make their way back to Irmler for further exploration and tweaking.

Billed as a merger between Irmler’s ‘meandering, wistfully psychedelic organ sound’ and Gudrun’s ‘reverb-laden, whispering, breathy voice’, the results of this union obscure and abstract both. Loaded instead with vapourous and metallic waltzing veils, interchangeable programmed drum patterns (mostly caustically trebly but cut with pinpoint accuracy and among some of the most sophisticated I’ve heard in ages) and esoteric percussion.

 

More or less succinctly entitled, each track is both simultaneously a concomitant lead in to the next and an individual self-contained, evocative story of its own. Not that those titles give much away, but on occasion they allude to a rectification of some vague theme. For example, ‘Traum’, translated as ‘dream’, has a magical Freudian hallucinatory quality, and festive wintery charm: broken up by a freakish raspy and squelching noise, underfoot.

‘Noah’ on the other hand may or may not bare any relationship to the Biblical flood survivor and great God hope for the future, being more of a ritualistic gaze at shooting stars and passing satellites. However, Irmler adds some extemporized gabbling speech, delivered by a remote transmission affected, introverted megaphone – you can even hear Gudrun off mic, laughing or encouraging Irmler, from the sidelines. ‘Früh’ translates as ‘early’, but early for what exactly we can’t quite tell, the rotor-bladed intro cylindrically bringing in a chain-reaction of busily interchanging particles and tight delay mechanics, all heading down a highway marked ‘the future’.

Always moving somewhere, either skywards from a subterranean vault or as with ‘Auf Und Ab’, ‘to and fro’ between the kinetic beats of Detroit techno, circa Rob Hood’s Metroplex days, and a sort of moody decadence. Upward and onwards then, 500m travels on the solar winds and elevates from a reverent esoteric organ produced sanctum into another great mystery.

Inhabiting a musical realm, nearly all of its own making, Gudrun and Irmler’s successful collaboration can not be termed as dance music – though it can certainly buzz, tinkle and kick with its pounding rhythms – nor is it long-winded and indolent enough to be called trance or ambient. There’s also no real link back to either of the artists past incarnations, the source of this enterprise being closer in spirit to the late 80s techno and deep house scenes, and more present influences – the chaos of a prime-Faust just a memory. Yet I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was a unique or new sound, but it is a fantastic electronic peregrination.

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