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Brockmann // Bargmann – Licht

Bureau B

Brockmann Bargmann - LichtThe three man guerilla riot that is Camera have taken new directions, but following in their wake is Licht by Franz Bargmann and Timm Brockmann, both ex-members of the band, but both with a work ethic that means less than a year after the release of Camera’s Phantom Of Liberty (on which LP neither played) we have something a little different into which to sink our aural teeth.

Bargmann left Camera in 2013 to work as part of Michael Rother‘s live band, which I guess is a fitting place for him. A year later, Brockmann left with the intention of working solely in the studio and ended up as engineer for The Tiger Lillies. Since then, when the two have spare time, they have been piecing Licht together and the end result is a fantastic, diverse set of electronics-based tracks.

Brockmann takes care of synths and keyboards, and Bargmann of guitars and atmosphere; and apart form a guest or two, this is all their own work, running to the best part of an hour. If you are looking for another Camera album, then I am afraid you are going to have to look somewhere else as the ideas contained within are quite far from the motorik immediacy of their parent band. Licht moves in waves from track to track, taking in glitchy electronics as on opener “Aura”, which with its gentle piano opening and drifting spring-like ambience evokes the dawn of a new day, dew on petals and that soft light of morning. It is closely followed by the euphoric post-rave comedown rush of “Deepmind”, its electronica basking in the glow of light guitar and piano spatters. It moves effortlessly, and between the opening two tracks you feel as if you have passed from morning to evening in the blink of an eye.

This feeling of moving from one atmosphere to another as the album progresses is great. You can’t just assume that if you have one track drifting into your ear that the album will continue to drift like that. “Softarps” is ethereal and haunting, hanging in the air like so much gossamer. There is something in the background that sounds like a musical saw, but I assume is one of those Arp synths and it tracks the body of the song like silk in a breeze. The following track “Horizont” takes the melody from “Softarps” and injects it with verve as a beat kicks in and guitar figures are strewn around in place of the Arp. It gives it more muscle and propels the track onward.

There is a feeling in one or two of the pieces of Jean Michel Jarre‘s earlier work: “Sylvester”‘s gentle electronic dynamism, glissando keyboard runs and subtle drum machine suggest an ear in his direction, but if follows on from the very subtle “Prisma”, which barely hangs in the air. The damp, rainforest keys of “Spektrum” bring to mind an Edgar Froese experiment, sweaty and humid but indolent with gentle guitar figures perched in the canopy. There is no knowing what to expect as you move from track to track. The most Camera-like is “Muezzin”, which really churns up the air as it moves, but the Eastern tinge to the guitar brings to mind a sitar and puts a little more distance between them and their parent band.

If anything, they have thrown far more ideas into this album than previously. It is almost as if Camera were expected to sound a certain way and chose not to deviate too much from that direction, but here, anything goes. “Schatten” is a real highlight and they enlist the help of Achim Farber from Automat who lends heavy, tribal drum patterns to what feels like the longest track on the album. It has a semi-industrial feel with a deep, cavernous drone that gradually increases in strength as the track proceeds. The drums become more vociferous, demanding to be heard over the drones as they start to turn into howling feedback. It is a vibrant, overwhelming listen that then drops into the Jan Hammer-like “Meer”; plangent echoing guitar and resonant piano evoking white sands and dolphins drifting offshore, basking in late afternoon sun.

This album goes everywhere and tips its hat here and there to those who have travelled before, but Timm and Franz have constructed their own universe on Licht and it is a lovely thing to be part of. If you leave the CD running after the melancholic closer “Hyper”, with its slamming doors and shutters rolling in the background, a few minutes of silence envelops you, offering an opportunity to process what you have just experienced before the hidden track grabs hold, as if Brockmann and Bargmann hadn’t already given you enough.

If Camera were saving motorik music and taking it into the future, Franz and Timm have invented their own future. I don’t know if this is a one-off, but it is a thing of beauty, and highly recommended.

-Mr Olivetti-

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