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Cave – Threace

Drag City

Cave - ThreaceListening to Cave is a motorik clockwork trance. Visions of huge gleaming chrome puzzle pieces in the sky twist and churn like some angelic Mecha.

Cave are clearly obsessed with minimalist German psychedelic music from the ’70s, as Threace is chock full of pulsing krautgrooves, but this time the band expand their bag of tricks to include other underground sounds of the decade. Threace veers between straight-up Can worship, to deep-fried ’70s rock, to stone-cold fusion. There’s jazzenflute and blatting Ethiopiques saxophone, smooth Fender Rhodes riding on the storm. It sometimes gives the sensation of listening to two records at the same time, stitched together like some unholy Homunculus, or a cyberpunk Chimera materialized out of thin air.

Cave blends all of these retrofixations with a technical precision that is distinctly modern. When the band Battles came out with their minimalist EPs in 2006, it seems like it really upped the game for stripped-down, repetitive music, and who knows if Battles would’ve happened without a couple of decades of listening to raw, brutalist techno. Let’s face it: we’ve been listening to and playing along with drum machines for 50 years, and musicians have been getting progressively more badass, especially after the krautrock boom made it acceptable to make endless, repeating grooves.

Once you strip music down to its barest components, rhythm, you can build whatever you like, and place it as precisely as a set jewel. Cave starts off with the traditional boom-boom-CHK-boom of the motorgroove, but quickly dismantles it, turning it inside out, into a mind-melting tapestry of rolling African polyrhythms. It reminds me of what William Bennett said about his Cut Hands afronoise project, that listening to a dozen rhythms is like trying to count snowflakes in a blizzard. The mind is shocked and awed into silence; peace through sensory overload. Cave are clearly ensnared by this beat, this groove. It’s easy to understand why, it must be like driving a monorail, at full tilt, across the Salt Flats. It must be incredibly addictive.

Sometimes it seems like this generation of musicians are all working on the same problem, coming at it from every angle. We are seeking every possible combination, every permutation. We are like safe-crackers, computer hackers. The beauty of this is that it breaks down artificial walls between genres and lets the musician think critically and creatively. Cave clearly love and understand every genre they reference on Threace, and could introduce a whole new generation to the underground grooves of the ’70s.

Very highly recommended.

-J Simpson-

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