[BASEMENTGRRR]: Destroy Everything CD Raumklang Music
I have always found [basementgrrr] to be a bit of an oddity musically speaking (let alone the name), where the lines between genres are clearly evident and don’t make comfortable bedfellows, due to the nature of styles colliding.
On ‘Destroy Everything’, there is clear evidence of this approach once again, where songs display an uncomfortable duality. Not quite Industrial, not exactly electronica, with undercurrents of Power Electronics structurally in the loosest sense of the terminology. However, credit has to be given in the progression stakes; where songs such as ‘Aeon’ delve into Prog Rock territory, without any other outside influence to cause a wobble on the path the track takes. It is clearly evident then, that [basementgrrr] can pick a specific genre when he chooses; and ultimately stick to it.
There is as much about this project that I like as much as I find uneasy to digest. I always find myself torn between momentary flashes of brilliance and a quagmire of sounds that don’t seem to gel; and this album epitomises that experience no less than some of my earlier encounters.
DIRK GEIGER: Dreams Die Quietly CD Raumklang Music
A surprising twist in approach here and an ultimately darker one with Geiger drawing on murky ambient as the bedrock to his latest release and as a lover of all that is Dark Ambient, this is a welcome listen personally as well.
Solitary Morse like bleeps echo through the ether, lighter pads are kept to a ghostly minimum; and the rhythms when they come, approach with a hypnotic tribalism. All the key ingredients for someone approaching a genre; not so much as becoming fully enveloped, but as to dip their toe in, so to speak. It’s this loitering at the precipice of the pit, that makes this album work more than if they had launched themselves completely into the depths of the genre with complete abandon; and provides an ultimately different perspective on the proceedings.
Long time fans of Geiger will most likely understand and appreciate this shift in timbre more than the casual listener; fully able to acknowledge the concept behind this latest opus. On the flip side of the chart, blue blood DA enthusiasts will still be able to enjoy the lighter aspects this album provides, respectively speaking; even if some of Dirk’s other output may be anathema to them. On both sides of the coin then, it appears Geiger has his bases covered; and I found this a refreshing album to indulge my senses with.
ACCESS TO ARASKA / ERODE / DIRK GEIGER: Reports From the Abyss CD Raumklang Music
Combining their talents and working collectively as one band, was always going to raise questions as to what the output would be when placing these three individual acts together as a whole; and the results are somewhat surprising given the IDM nature of at least two of these artists, to say the least.
The opening and title track harks back to an era of early electro Industrial with layered vocals and synths that are as dense as they come. The rhythms have a skittish and stilted nature to them, altogether offbeat; and an indicator of the difference between the three minds that have come together as one.
As expected there are melodies aplenty on display here, alongside variation into other areas of electronic music (that are more akin to their individual projects) running as an undercurrent and foundation, altering the standard Haujobb-esque motions that dance over the top of them; and thus making for an ultimately unique and enjoyable experience overall.
The latter half of the album contains remixes from other acts and provide an altogether expected but no less engrossing experience; with the likes of Displacer and Lights Out Asia drawing on their own strengths, which do ultimately have their individual footnotes firmly stamped all over them. I would have liked more output from the three main protagonists than drawing on mixes to complete the album; but the overall listening experience doesn’t suffer either way for it.
As a whole, ‘Reports From The Abyss’ has a multitude of facets that should appeal to listeners of genres that collectively huddle under the same umbrella.
[BASEMENTGRRR]: [HURT] CD Raumklang Music
The fundamentals of this third album from Ralf Gatzen are on point. Cinematic electronics and key attention to vocalisations give ‘[HURT]’ a form of gravitas I haven’t encountered before with this project; and the opening gambit, ‘Rituals’ is a prime example of everything Ralf can do well when he is focussed.
Momentary flashes of brilliance creep in throughout this album, which does have a more progressive approach to it than previous output. Consistency is less of an issue here, as for the most part there appears to be more of a concept at play; and that gives the album a rigid core, where the fundamentals are stronger overall.
I am still not a fan of the drum sounds utilised on [basementgrrr] as a whole; and more work could have been done in this area. It’s fair to say that some of the better tracks on here would have sounded colossal if he had given them some more thought (or indeed if it had just been ambient).
Overall, this is the best album I have heard from this project yet. Just a little more work on approach and sound sources, could provide an end result that is nothing short of monumental.
HOTARU BAY: 11 Songs + One CDr Raumklang Music
Sparse artwork gives little away as to what is on offer from this latest work from Grauraum, letting his music solely do the talking. As the opening chiming pads and rich bass drenched beats kick through the speakers with ‘1 of 11 Songs + One’, It’s immediately evident that the listener is in for a treat; with ranging emotional IDM, being Hotaru Bay’s staple ingredient.
‘Dominanzversagen’ focuses the attentions on a darker range of ambient, accompanied by wire-like tinged simplistic rhythms allowing atmospherics to ooze through and dissipate into an aural mist of a driving soundtrack, that melds well into the glitch infused ‘5.24am’.
As with a lot of acts from this stable, you can never get away from the underlying influences; and whilst HB pulls on references that occasionally remind me of Gridlock, he does take credit for providing his own take on the genre in competent fashion. Grauraum likes to take the listener on a lengthy journey, letting you pause at key moments in space and time, allowing you to ponder at the vision he is presenting.
Hotaru Bay is a good all rounder that gets away with a lot by taking little risk. Nothing is truly original if I am to be fair, but where some albums are a collection of outstanding flashes of brilliance with an array of fillers, HB manages to drive linear clarity from start to finish; that is solid and complimentary to the genre as a whole.
Overall, an enjoyable and engaging release that provides an insight into future avenues, where I am sure Hotaru could deliver something truly monumental.
LETZTE AUSFAHRT LEBEN: Mirrage CDr Raumklang Music
Germany’s LAL open up the proceedings with a tense urgency, as sirens ring and distorted ambience slips and slides dramatically; as subtle beats and tribal percussion patter in repetition. In contrast, ‘Damnation’ carries the ambience in PE fashion as a more familiar structure takes hold with the drum structures; the blend of the two forces works well and once again, it’s a tense affair.
Letzte Ausfahrt Leben play with monotony with the same familiarity of bands such as Sonar. It’s a key ingredient to the overall hypnosis of the music; that holds the listener in a fixed state of concentration as opposed to boring them to death. A clever use of vocal sampling works well with the distorted beat/powernoise blend and this also assists in keeping ‘Mirrage’ from stagnating.
LAL also have the ability to turn it on when needed; and the title track ups the pace somewhat, but blends harmony into the torrid mix; and dare I say it smacks occasionally of originality. However the main ingredient that keeps this artist relevant is the ability to mix up the tracks effectively with pace and sincerity; no two tracks follow the same path, alternating between the singular monotony I mentioned previously and up-paced frenetic club beating, coupled with smatterings of Dark Ambient.
Overall, an interesting release that wouldn’t be out of place on the Hands label as far as styles go. Not a world-beater, but engaging none-the-less and worthy of investing some time in.
[BASEMENTGRRR]: A Certain Kind of Decay CDr Raumklang Music
‘After the Devastation’ opens this latest release by the curiously titled [Basementgrrr], in futuristic Dark Ambient style. Vicious whispers and clatters scythe through the machine humming mix and provide an effective deception at the true nature of this acts staple genre.
‘Dead Planet’ hits with a blast of complex electronics and science fiction led synths that flare through a barrage of rhythmic sources and scattered patterns; that are reminiscent of the underrated Totakeke. This all consummately feeds well into ‘Polyarnyy’; opening up with emphatic pads that meld into soundtrack arpeggio led beats and chimes, that are broken down into an effective structure that oozes competently with atmosphere.
‘A Certain Kind of Decay’ is one of those albums, which whilst doesn’t set the world on fire, nails down all its key components well. Fusing the occasional smattering of commercialism into the mix along the way (as on the furious ‘My Darkest Part’) supplying a relevant break in the bleak soundscapes envisaged; and provides enough twists and turns to keep the listener on their toes.
As a solid piece of electronic music that tightly knits dyed in the wool scene friendly industrialism, this latest album ticks all the relevant boxes and should please the many over the few. There is however, something that just fails to raise an adequate level of excitement in me and I struggle right now to place my finger on what it is; regardless of the obvious talent [Basementgrrr] so obviously possesses.