Kräuter der Provinz by Datashock

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Kräuter der Provinz has just been released on Bureau B (CD, 2xLP + CD + DL) from the German artist collective known for the improvisational fusion, Datashock, from the edges of the River Saar. With elements of other acts like Spiritualized, Stereolab and Spectrum, they add their spin on psychedelic space music with neo-hippy rhythms. The guitar is central at first, and it’s funky over cosmic synths and driving percussion. For review purposes I am listening to the CD version, however you may want to seriously consider the double vinyl for additional tracks: Langusten Clown (am Atlantik) and Eine Brise Exotik.

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Hullu Gullu, Wir Liefern Shizz is a good time opener, with just the right amount of jangle and sweet timbre. When it goes low it shutters only to bring the whole shebang back up again. Swampy funk makes its entry through the backdoor with baby cries and chimes on Wenn Alle Wollen, Will Uch Auch! It even squeaks, blurps and otherwise brings in assorted effects like a snake charming ceremony, dare I say charming given that MC Cobra is in the frontlines. Other players here include LL Cool P, DJ Ulf Eyes, Cha Cha and El Haze, to name a few. These guys are interpretive and a whole lot of fun – but it’s no ‘Freebird’ – and thank the heavens for that! It’s actually quite rooted in the traditions brought forth by the likes of Guru Guru, Ash Ra Tempel and Neu! but brings with it a completely refreshing update that uses other worldly rhythms and even jingle bells.

At times it feels very deep south folksy, and then you’re transported to backstage, where feel you are listening to the touring session players minus the fronting face of Talking Heads, but all the while there are cavernous pockets of mystery in the mayhem. It’s quite a cerebral record. For instance, the Middle Eastern harmonies on Im Zuchtstall Der Existenzhengste are quite spare and ambient, while also being aligned to an orchestra pit tuning for a grand performance. There’s a common knowledge that each player seems to understand about the whole, without any semblance of smarty-pants. The jam must go on!

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ASTRAL AURAL: And so it goes. The organ vibes and twinkling synths of Spirituelle Enthaltsamkeit Im Sandwichverfahren add static and humor regarding spiritual abstinence and sandwiches (roughly translated). There are sad strings, and shifting crystal electronics in the mix giving this spiritual overtones that sound carved from a b-movie like Zardoz. Upon a mountaintop is where you might picture while running with Schönster Gurkenschwan. It’s an unusual blend of soundtrack, church organ and soaring heights, managing to stay rootsy. There are unexpected moments of infiltrating percussion that has a slight industrial bent, but the mood remains fairly grounded until they add layers which become voluminous. In the end the springs pop like mechanisms gone awry, and it just withers away. Marodierende Sachbearbeiter Aus Teilzeit is an outright gorgeous blend of unfathomable dimensions captured inside a sci-fi musical, a language forgotten or yet decoded.

On the closer, Halb-Halb, Wie Ein Guter Kloß, you can feel the passion where players who have been at it for a decade and a half come into their own as a group. The subdued quietude and micro-electronics bode well for their overall output, which in this introduction to their sound stands as close to my years of impressions of similar outfits like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and even Gus Gus. These are in no way direct comparisons, it’s more about the versatility and breadth brought be multiple players who allow each other to be inventive, yet no one personality becomes the obvious lead, leading to a much greater centeredness and musicality. Here the flighty synths and strings are perfectly married in conversation while other playful noodling emits and recedes. And the temporal qualities remain effervescent and trance inducing in the best possible way. This is highly recommended for audiences who appreciate prog rock, out jazz, experimental electronica, and as such becomes a metamorphosis of all the above, and then some.

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