Swirling synths, disjointed robotic beats, no vocals, a vast sense of otherworldliness…no, this isn’t the new Radiohead album but a meaty chunk of krautrocking goodness/badness for yer ass from French cosmonaut Baikonour.
Picking up the proggy baton that started with German mavericks Can through the turgid dreamscapes of Tangerine Dream in creating mind-melding instrumentals best enjoyed with some recreational smoking devices. America may have had its Motown, but Germany, the home of the Autobahn gave us mechanised beats of the glacial beauty of Kraftwerk and the tight (but loose) playfulness of Can and Faust.
Opener Lick Lokoum shimmers into view on a heat haze of treated piano and drones as a demented melody struggles to rise through the bank of sound to tether its spatial yearnings. That’s what krautrock does to a writer!
Breaking the bliss, Coltan Anyone? struts like a peacock on a motorway, full of mind-melding crescendos that wow and flutter like a butterfly on your brain. You almost expect arch Roxy Music crooner Byron Ferrari (Bryan Ferry) to start warbling about illicit, doomed European love affairs, but to no avail. The groove is laid down with a solid bass beat as instruments soar around and above threatening to draw the tune in a myriad of directions. If you weren’t transported to other realms this would be the perfect musical travel companion for outer space travel.
Proto Couer follows in its shadow with an almost Stooge-like incessant organ bleating above phased drums and piano. Similar in tone to the latest Four Tet album in its archaic take on the world, but with less of the beat-fest of the latter. Not to say this beast doesn’t lack teeth, more ones that grind than bite.
Hoku To Shin Ken takes things on a skewed eastern trip as seen from behind a fictitious Iron Curtain, with its intertwining melodies and repetitive rolls that does, admittedly test the patience.
60 to 0 redresses this with a slight pastoral piece of pure mood music that makes you sigh in an industrial heat haze of machinery unwinding, albeit very gracefully.
2/3/74 slips into another gear, rolling and bubbling along on a motorific beat, unwavering guitar undercarriage and the vaguest hint of a vocal.
Oben Beg could almost morph into Nirvana‘s All Apologies were it not for a few notes more on its circular riff, and a lot more angst.
To finish with are two throwaway instrumentals and not one but two fairly forgettable ‘hidden tracks’ (such is the way with prog).
Unfortunately there is no grand finale to round things off after the promising start, but maybe that was the intention that once you ‘indulged’ in your musical accompaniment, you’d be too wasted to remember that side two was, well, sadly lacking. So, it’s krautrock folks, but not as we know it. Approach with caution and a clear head.