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FM Einheit and Irmler – No Apologies

Klangbad

Klangbad’s series of Spielwiese releases involves label boss Jochen Irmler inviting interesting collaborators to his Scheer studio and simply recording the results. This particular meeting between the frenetic engine driver of eighties period Einstürzende Neubauten and the convivial klangmeister of Faust was always going to provide rewarding results, and their debut live appearance at the 2010 Klangbad Festival was certainly a highlight of the weekend. No Apologies was actually recorded slightly before that but took a while to sneak out into the world –  Swabian time bears only the most tenuous connection to the rest of us after all.

In fact the idea for the collaboration stretches back decades, to when the two were neighbours in Hamburg, Jochen running an electrical shop and Mufti involved in a local café. Some things take time though, and the two eventually met up at the Klangbad studio, enthusing over good food and other non-musical matters of taste, avoiding any musical discussion before hitting the record button.

Using just two huge metal springs channelled through a selection of modulators and delays, Mufti coaxes out an unearthly cacophony with his metal bars, rubber mallets, drills and sledgehammers. Whether detonating seismic reverbs or firing salvos of sci-fi death rays, Mufti’s aural arsenal is anything but comforting. Jochen’s home-built organs evoke the same unique thrill we had on first hearing that sound way back in the ’70s, while proving adaptable to vastly different settings. Both men display an intuitive grasp of the physical substance of sound. To Irmler and Einheit, sound is no mere carrier medium for rhythm and melody, but an endlessly expandable resource of ingredients from which to fashion their delicious sonic saitenwürstle.

The LP’s six tracks (and an extra two available as download) seem like windows onto a continuous sound world that has already been going on for an eternity and will continue long after we leave. In the absence of words, whether the track titles are meaningful or random is unclear; “Halbwert-Zerfall” does seem to evoke a sense of radioactive decay but “Simple Song” is most definitely neither simple nor a song. No matter, the reverberating maelstrom of clangs and drones behind the titles stand up without the aid of any concept, a music as pure and abstract as any yet made.

The sounds coalesce into an infusion of industrial psychedelia that veers between foreboding and turbulence. Elements recall the two collaborators’ past groups but No Apologies possesses a vitality and invention that comes from the thrill of exploring a fresh partnership. This is a timeless music that shows no hint of the jaded competence that is often the mark of “experienced veterans.” In a world where everything has already been done and everything sounds a bit like something else, it’s quite remarkable that this recording seems without obvious precedent, an alien robot music from a distant galaxy. Furthermore, it establishes the hitherto underused line-up of organ and spring as a classic duo combination – I certainly hope it catches on with entertainers down our pub!

-Alan Holmes-

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