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Mythos – Grand Prix

Sireena

Mythos – Grand PrixSireena Records seem to be in the process of reissuing a lot of the old Sky Records release from their back catalogue. This is a lovely-looking edition with original artwork and a booklet with lots of pictures as well as the lyrics, plus a complete run down of all the beautiful old equipment used (which is great if you’re a bit of a synth nerd like myself), as well as a couple of bonus tracks. These help fledge out an album that would have had an original running time of only about 35 minutes. Mythos stands on the borderline in Krautrock, being almost a mixture of progressive styles that mutated further down the line into a more electronic drum machine-laden pieces in a more Kraftwerk fashion.

The album begins with the title track, which has a very 1981 drum pattern (the album was recorded then) that chugs away under a stuttering Kraftwerk synth sound and a vocoded vocal that Daft Punk would envy. The tune is bright and the analogue synths sound wonderful amongst those lovely warm drum machine sounds. This is Tour De France for the elite and speed set. “Transamazonica” has some wonderful scattering sequencer patterns as its main melody develops over a powerful bass line. This gives the track a sort of oriental feel and reminded me of Japan’s instrumental work of the same period. By the time the flute and sax hit in the track takes off and moves into travelling music, a sort of ambience for differing landscapes.

“Transatlantik Non-Stop” is a bright and airy piece with piccolo-sounding synth over more industrial Human League-sounding rhythms. This also gives the feel of movement and travel it sounds at points like several vistas rolled into one. “Video” starts with a strong bass line as disco beat bass drums begin to hit in. The main Moog-sounding tune sounds like something that Keith Emerson would play on the same instrument. When the track breaks down to its bass line and various noises you could almost imagine it going on to become some grandiose epic, but Stephan Kaske keeps the track reined in enough so that doesn’t meander. More EDP Spider sequencing bass notes herald in “Jet Set,” with its choppy high synth and wonderful Vocoder it reminds me of a track off The Age of Plastic by The Buggles. The main keyboard part hints at Vangelis without the track ever being overblown. It is the sound of a futuristic city like the kind The Jetsons lived in.

“Bermuda Dreieck” uses Man Machine hard edge synth sequence that is made more floating-sounding by some lovely sax and flute that gives the track an odd space of its own. Its neither hard and robotic nor gentle and wafting; it hangs between the two in a world of its own. “Robot Secret Agents” (one of the best titles ever) clangs into its opening, but is that a Mellotron I hear? When the vocals hit in, you are looking at a track that would not be out of place on the second Tubeway Army album – it’s only when the flute comes in that we sound like we have switched bands to Jethro Tull. It’s a brilliant mixture that strangely works. “Mayday,” the last track on the original album, has tribal-sounding beats with a big Vocoder over the top and some swirling synth that gives the track more of a post-punk feel than anything else on the album.

“Rockwarts” is the first of the bonus tracks. It begins with an atonal synth sequence over which distorted vocals speak. The rhythm begins to break down at points and the synth begins to get busier, but somehow reminding me here of John Foxx-era Ultravox. By the time the vocals start chanting, the track has settled into its stride only for Stephan to take it on another slightly atonal journey. “Mellotron Mystique” is truly marvellous: it’s haunting and spacey and gives a feeling of reaching for an outer cluster of stars. It is the only thing on the album that touches upon a Tangerine Dream sound, but adds an eerie otherworldly atmosphere. This track for me could have lasted at least 10 minutes rather than five, but then I could listen to this type of thing all day (and sometimes do).

This is a great reissue, nicely put together for an album that’s been a bit of a rarity for some time. It is a testimony to Stephan’s talent that this album still sounds fantastic after all these years and now we can finally hear it again in all its glory.

-Gary Parsons-

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