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Irmler/Einheit/Paul/Young – Spielwiese 3/Wolfarth & Irmler – Illumination


The release of [post=faust-is-last text=”Faust Is Last”] a couple of years back seems to have freed up Hans-Joachim Irmler’s creative enthusiasm, his output rate suddenly jumping from Scott Walker to Acid Mothers Temple territory. These two new Klangbad releases are the fourth and fifth new projects involving Irmler since the Faust album in 2010 and there’s no sign of any let up in quality yet.

The third [post=bill-spielwiese-zwei text=”Spielwiese”] finds the reunited duo of Irmler and FM Einheit joined by Ute-Marie Paul of Nista Nije Nista and American bassoonist Katherine Young. The crash and throb of Irmler & Einheit’s No Apologies is still very much present, but on Spielwiese Drei, the soundfield is given a subtly uneasy sense of foreboding by Paul and Young’s contributions. Opening track “If It Is” jumps right in with a darkly relaxed groove, the two women trading dislocated phrases over the undulating pulse. This unexpectedly human edge instills a false sense of security, the group soon veering off into interplanetary territories.

“Lost in Construction” sets Einheit’s huge reverberating springs against what sound like small close mic’d household objects. The sound space is unnervingly fractured with Irmler’s apocalyptic organ swelling and retreating like banks of fog drifting across the landscape. Bassoon and clarinet wander around nervously, two familiar figures lost in a forbidding landscape. Closing track “A Terrific Place (reprise)” ends the album on a calm and harmonious note, bearing little similarity to the earlier “A Terrific Pace” with its snatched sampled voices lost and frightened amongst the eerie droned and swooping menace. If it didn’t sound vaguely seedy, Spielwiese Drei could be seen as a wonderful artistic dialogue between two old guys and two young girls. As it is, let’s just say it’s another resoundingly successful collaboration.

Illumination is quite different in tone, although hardly the ‘jazz’ that Swiss drummer Christian Wolfarth’s involvement might hint at. This collaboration could easily be passed off as a lost Krautrock classic from the ‘golden age’, side one’s twenty minute title track bringing to mind Tangerine Dream circa Atem, Klaus Schultze’s Cyborg or just about any early Popol Vuh, and the four more concise pieces on the flipside hinting at Cluster’s less melodic work. Throughout the album the duo manage to pull off a strangely unsettling and ever changing calm that seems to un-nerve even as it soothes.

Both records are quite essential.

-Alan Holmes-

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