Apparently, you are what you eat. Thus: Eat Lights Become Lights. Thus: Eat krautrock, become krautrock? Whatever’s being scoffed in the ELBL camp, it’s working. They craft – and have crafted – music that taps directly into the central nervous system and provides both a cerebral and corporeal thrill-ride into the narcotic ether of the outer reaches of the galaxy.
In simpler terms, their music is designed to be ingested when either completely happy or completely stoned. If you sit in either of those camps, prepare for your current mood to be exacerbated tenfold. The riotous grooves of ELBL’s latest LP Into Forever will surely provide you with more than enough reason to shake your cranium in a euphoric daze.
Band members Neil Rudd (guitars, synths), John Barrett (drums), Matt Donovan (drums) and Al Baker (bass) conjure a dichotomous blend of kosmische music that blends the synthetic with the organic, in time honoured tradition. You wouldn’t have heard of bands like Damo Suzuki without this blend, for example.
The record kicks off with the unbridled Velocet Nir Nacet (Anthony Burgess, anyone?), that bristles with fizzing electronic energy. It’s carried forwards with a relentless, burgeoning rhythm that brings to mind such luminaries as Neu! and Popul Vuh, with a hypnotic groove that you’re sure to be singing for days. It’s so hypnotic, in fact, that when it’s reintroduced near the three-minute mark, you’re not sure whether the tempo has increased or whether you have slowed down. Epic stuff.
Bounce Synth is next up, and it opens with a tinkling, repetitive clatter of synthetic bells. It expands slowly, still revolving around the same theme, but gradually incorporating washes of atmospheric noise. Time Enough follows, and it’s got far more kinetic energy than the previous cut: There’s a sense of perpetual motion kicking about, and it builds in a way not dissimilar to a Factory Floor cut (if FF had been listening to plenty of Kraftwerk), all tense anticipation and lingering motion.
The gated synth base upon which Shapes And Patterns is constructed only serves to emphasise the geometric nature of the title by turning the track into a masterly exercise in relentless progressive sound. Vapour Trails follows that up with a more ethereal sound, one that evokes both Michael Rother’s stargazing projects and the more sedate moments you’d expect from a prog-rock record. It’s a hypnotic piece, especially so when a chilling violin sound pops up to cut through the mist.
You Are Disko is an absolute monster of a cut. It’s an immersive number, where a groove a thousand miles wide is constructed out of interlocking synth and percussion sounds… it’s such an authentic re-imagining of the old-school motorik sound that it could quite easily have been mistaken for one of Kraftwerk or Neu!’s undiscovered gems. A true delight.
Epic closer Into Forever is a fitting track with which to end such a great record: It successfully synthesises all of the best moments from the earlier tracks into a shinier, brighter kluster (ahem) of sounds that could have easily come from the collective mind of Herr Moebius and Herr Roedelius.
All in all, this is an incredible release for those with even the slightest interest in the German pioneers of the ’70s and their recent offspring. Whether you’re into Factory Floor, Moon Duo, La Düsseldorf or, say, The Horrors, you’ll be instantly quenched by what’s on offer here.
Into Forever is not the first record to attempt to contemporize the generations-old kosmische sound, but it’s certainly amongst the finest in recent memory. If you’re a seasoned listener to Kraftwerk, be prepared for this album to make your year. If you’re not – be prepared to be inspired.