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Kreidler – Tank

Bureau B

After their welcome batch of [post=”cluster-roundup” text=”Cluster-related releases”], Bureau B now turn their attention back to the present, and a brand new album by one of Krautrock’s spiritual offspring. Kreidler have always seemed very much the children of Can with their real time grooves that somehow sounded more precise than machines. Their earlier austere miniatures have gradually given way to more expansive grooves and tonal palettes over the years, with last year’s Mosaik 2014 sounding comparatively lush and slick in comparison. Although the results were satisfying, the process had taken the group over a year to complete and so, wary of travelling further up this route, Kreidler made a decision that Tank would reflect a return to basics.

Rather than painstakingly edit and manipulate studio improvisations as on Mosaik 2014, Kriedler drew on their years of live experience to prepare and rehearse a new set of material, which was then recorded and mixed in a total of eight days – often in first takes. The resulting album has a stripped down minimalism that harks back to the group’s early days, but with a tight live energy resulting from sixteen years of playing together. The six tracks are of fairly uniform length at around seven minutes, giving them room to develop their mesmerizing patterns, the band claiming Tank to be influenced by great disco albums by Patrick Cawley or Saint Tropez, or closer to home, Neu! 75.

Dubby opener “New Earth” eases in slowly with filtered drones wrapping themselves around a treated bass and basic drum pattern, gradually building up with ominous electronics creating a tangible sense of foreboding. Kreidler share fellow Düsseldorfers Neu! and Kraftwerk’s forward propulsion, although you get the distinct feeling that much of the old-timers’ utopian vision has been crushed into a dystopian dread since the Krautrock heyday. While Kraftwerk and Neu! sped eagerly towards a brave new world, Kreidler have actually seen the new world and are getting the hell out of there – fast, classicist major key melodies replaced by queasy atmospherics and edgy bass punctuations.

The overall feel has much in common with classic period Cabaret Voltaire, and indeed on tracks like “Jaguar” and “Saal,” Alex Paulick’s jerky funk bass drives the music along with a paranoid groove very reminiscent of Stephen Mallinder. Tank captures Kreidler’s live sound more faithfully than ever before, the constant tension between the live rhythm section and sequenced electronics creating a thrilling urgency imbued with the icy precision and nervous energy of a true menschmaschine. “Kremlin Rules” starts off stately and melancholy, a seemingly low key coda to close the album. But no… at the two and a half minute mark, the group remember their stated disco influences and everything switches into full-on eurodisco mode, complete with octave bass line and cheesy synth melodies.

A happy ending to a most engaging album, probably Kreidler’s finest work to date.

-Alan Holmes-

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