brockmann // bargmann Licht (LP + CD, £19.95)label: Bureau B
Sounds of celestial beauty and infernal force: Brockmann // Bargmann (ex-Camera) celebrate keys, guitars and effects. Esteemed for their improvisational audacity, hurtling forwards to a motorik beat, there is another side to the Berlin "Krautrock Guerilla" trio Camera which sees them explore landscapes of sound. This is exactly what the two founder members Franz Bargmann (guitar) and Timm Brockmann (keyboards) present to us on their purely instrumental debut album "Licht". Harmonic and melancholic, tender and tough, planar and rhythmic - yet never dull. The story so far: in 2013 Franz Bargmann left Camera to join La Düsseldorf drummer Hans Lampe as the live band for Michael Rother (NEU!, Harmonia). A year after Bargmann's departure, Brockmann also quit, in his case to devote himself primarily to studio work. This led him first to Boris Wilsdorf, engineer and "in-house" producer for Einstürzenden Neubauten since the year 2000. Brockmann later took on the role of personal engineer for the Tiger Lillies, those underground icons of dark humour, and is still responsible for their sound today. When Timm Brockmann and Franz Bargmann were ready to record the "Licht" album, they turned to Tiger Lillies singer Martyn Jacques, who set them up in his studio. The album documents an intense journey of exploration into sound, with improvisation as its compass. Stylistic barriers pale into insignificance for Brockmann // Bargmann. Their sound is warm and compact, channelled through analogue synthesisers, pianos and guitars. Occasionally an open room microphone draws the listener right into the recording studio. Brockmann // Bargmann display the utmost respect for their musical antecedents or pioneering predecessors and do so in the most diverting fashion. Cluster are often alluded to in reverential terms, whilst a hint of Jean-Michel Jarre shines through at certain moments. Sometimes Brockmann // Bargmann align themselves with contemporaries such as Ulrich Schnauss or Rival Consoles, elsewhere they revert to the ferocity of Camera. The time they spent in the studio allowed plenty of scope for experimentation: material already recorded was rearranged, layered vertically or side by side. Random occurrences and transformation processes were embraced, as exemplified by the track "Prisma". Here, different mixes which, in themselves, comprised various layers were structured as overlays, offering a tangible insight into the workings of the studio. Whilst a drum computer comes into play here and there, drummer Achim Färber (Automat, Project Pitchfork) was invited to bring his rhythms to the track entitled "Schatten". Towering tribal drum patterns collide with sub bass and guitar drones. The density increases constantly, subtly, evoking images of escalation and destruction before the sonic walls ultimately dissolve into ethereal "delay". "Licht" oscillates - as a faithful representation of the artists' emotional world - between different situations and moods in the broadest of arcs. Expect things to happen when they play live. Vinyl version plus CD.
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