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Cave – Neverendless

Drag City

It’s fair to say that the motorik template is now so firmly embedded into popular music that a waft of Klaus Dinger‘s beloved rhythm can trickle over the PA in an mid-range department store pretty much anywhere from John Lewis to Galeries Lafayette via Macy’s and no-one browsing there will blink an eye. But as the shoppers drift on to finger the latest seasonal offerings longingly and compare the three for two price possibilities, the canned music will doubtless drift into more harmonised glitch-pop fodder; whereas Cave have got their timeclocks set to a somewhat weightier musical motion, and yes, they have been listening to a spot of Kraftwerk among the NEU! too.

“WUJ” is a great opening, and it rollicks as well as roils, sweeping in on that percussive 1-2-3-4 before shifting into full-tilt guitar-widdle and springing forth like they’re straining at a leash to really kick off. But they pull back (eventually), and the organs come out to open up “This Is The Best,” and Cave apply essentially the same template: choppy guitars, limber basslines, keyboard stutters and drumming set to Düsseldorf time, all the while accellerating and spreading widewards as well as lengthwards, frazzling and layering undertones until the overtones can’t help themselves but to burst forth with all the sunny-day enthusiasm of someone who really believes that the song title is apt and accurate. It could well be, and it’s fun to join in the moment when it seems like that the pure power of linear repetition leavened with turns and twists poised to perfection can save the day, if only from itself, and to let the music uncoil with an energy which feels pretty damn life-affirming as it propels the listener willy-nilly along the particular groove Cave have determined is the most efficacious in ramping up the fixed grin quotient.

Cave have found that one way to keep the tempo rolling along as the album unwinds is to ensure that the mellifluous melodies are leavened with enough grit (à la Stereolab‘s early explorations of the form) and the whispers of analogue synthesis sprinkle electronic fairy dust across a track like “Adam Roberts” in just the correct proportions to moisten the palette for “On The Rise.” Here the interplay between the guitars is straight from the Velvet Underground book of how to form a two-chord rock band, but locked into such sinuous instrumental pleasantry that it’s almost a shock when the band start to actually sing the song title while very much making it come true in a flurry of accreting harmonies, feedback glimmers and applied FX. Album closer “OJ” is where those aforementioned Kraftwerk influences come in, but this is the Ralf Und Florian of Kraftwerk 1 and 2, organ-slinging noise-lovers who weren’t afraid to throw in some flute among the stabbing chords; and while Cave aren’t really “Heavy Metal Kids” either – Kraftwerk so very weren’t, but their radio session track of the same name springs instantly to mind listening to this piece uncoil with a buzzing, rippling purpose.

Previous Cave efforts have hinted at their powerful grasp of the fundamentals of four-to-the-floor, white-line-fever-fun, but Neverendless – and what a suitable title that turns out to be – could well develop into their quintessential release. As the delay pedals finally overwhelm the music for the final fade, the might well be only one option worth considering: to lift the needle, press the play button, click the playlist; whatever the trigger, and just play the whole thing back again, one more time.

-Linus Tossio-

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