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Camera – Phantom Of Liberty

Bureau B
Camera - Phantom Of LibertyWell, Bureau B have unleashed another Camera album like some hyperactive missile of joy for us all to experience. This is the third LP from the Berlin duo and this time there is a lot more to it than the feeling of Neu! songs being played by adolescent teenagers with too much energy. There is energy in abundance, but this is tempered with real thought as to how the album is going to hang together and that makes for a very satisfying listen.As much as we love it, it was always obvious that Camera had more to offer and on this album, that promise is fulfilled.

Although there are eight tracks on the disc, it runs to over 45 minutes and each piece exists in its own mood. I was barely prepared for opener “Affenfaust”, which comes out of the speakers like a sprinter off the blocks, the deceptively simple beat allowing the bouncing keyboards and bubbly synth to weave in and out like a drunken balloon seller, delightful but unhinged. As a contrast, it is followed by the ’60s spy movie of “Frohlickeit”. I can almost see Virna Lindt mouthing along to it as synths duel like Cold War adversaries, each adding something other to the mix. They are not even afraid to drop the funk bomb as “Ildefons” finds them doing their thang distorted and dastardly guitar sounds lending texture to a smooth recipe.

At times, I am reminded of Trans Am, who have a similar desire to entertain in an electronic manner, but with a sense of fun and adventure. If anything, Camera sound warmer — they don’t lose themselves under an icy carapace, but warmth of character shines through, their synths burble and bubble, chattering away. If electronic music had its own David Attenborough show, Camera would be like a litter of naughty fox cubs, chasing one another around an indulgent mother.

Elsewhere we find Frippertronic effects strewn across “Festus”, bedding down with a slower tribal rhythm showing that not everything goes at full pelt; there is even one really slow jam, a wah-wah guitar line adding festive psychedelia to an already overflowing mix. Final track “Tribal Mango” really throws us a curve. A plodding bassline worthy of Rema-Rema merges with post-punk skronk guitar and a melange of crazy sounds to offer quite a different feel, and popping it at the end gives you a feeling of a journey taken through the whole album.

This is really a very good LP and I was reminded of an old colleague who had seen Camera supporting either Michael Rother or Manuel Göttsching some years ago. It seemed fitting then that they were paying homage to those sort of heavyweights, but with this album they can finally step out from that shadow and take motorik music into the future.

-Mr Olivetti-

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