Sexagenarian electronic pioneers and Krautrockers are hard to come by, thus making any new release from Dieter Moebius a welcome event. At the age where the thoughts of many turn to stairlifts and Last Of The Summer Wine, Moebius is still putting out music and collaborating on interesting projects. Kram, despite some flaws, is at least better than larking about with a tin bath in the Yorkshire Dales.
Kram literally translates as “stuff” and this album is a collection of good ideas and developed sketches. The colourful cover signifies a jumble of bright sonic invention; Kram sets out on a journey to an assortment of random sonic places. But it’s hamstrung by an underlying problem; if repetitive minimalist German electro doesn’t float your boat then you’ll probably find this a slow and sticky experience.
Any genre of music with the word “repetitive” in its name is sure to put some people off. Repetition is a fundamental feature of this album and Moebius uses it as building blocks for his vast structural soundscapes. In a year when we’ve seen Animal Collective‘s repetitive techniques break new and exhilarating ground it’s hard not to be a little bored by Kram, but there is a feeling of forward motion at times.
Opening track Start is an amusing sonic safari, gradually building towards a mass of satisfying chaos. But after Kompt’s tribal Bladerunner-esqeness things start to get flat and disappointing. At times it doesn’t feel like we’re in 2009, and it’s safe to say that we’re heard most of this before. Some of these tracks could have been from any time over the last few decades.
Perhaps the major obstacle, the crux of the album’s problems, is that it has difficulty expressing any soul. The synthesised happenings obscure Moebius’ own personality and any warmth feels hidden behind all the artifice.
Kram is not a bad album, but it’s unlikely to convert any new disciples. At moments it feels dated, but it has an intriguing cinematic quality that at other times can conjure up varied pictures in the mind’s eye. If slow burning repetition is your thing then you’ll find moments to enjoy, but otherwise it’s as likely to be tuned out. As “stuff” goes, this is a curious collection, but it’s very hard work too.