I know that deep down inside there’s one question that you all burn with desire to answer, a question you hardly dare to even whisper to yourself when there’s nobody else in the room, a question that continually gnaws away at the edge of your consciousness; relax friends, I am here to answer it for you. Yes, you are all desperate to know what current German bands are addressing the Krautrock legacy fully. Well, with aid of Kreidler Den, I can bring some soothing to your troubled soul. And soothing it is, mostly.
I picked this LP up as soon as it came out in 2012 due to some favourable reviews, knowing very little about it but fancying some hot, full-frontal instrumental action; Den delivers this in spades. True to their Düsseldorf tradition, Kreidler* are an electronic group but with extras, they add guitar and drums into the palette too. The end effect strays more into Tortoise territory than Kraftwerksville, but with a glossier sheen.
Take opening track ‘Sun’. It’s lovely, it skitters into view waving an essentially warming melody before it, never picking up more than a temporary, fragile rhythm. There are even shades of U2 in some of the tones used. I would love to either be the sort of wholesome person who would get up early enough yoga the dawn of a new day in with this track somewhere picturesque, or the kind of mean-eyed feral drug weasel who parties until the break of dawn and uses ‘Sun’ to still his antisocial urges before re-joining the fringes of society; I’m neither, sadly. But, as always I digress. This is a lovely opener for the album and shows what Kreidler are about. ‘Deadwringer’ continues in a similar heliocentric manner, this time it is more percussive, picking up momentum throughout. Unless my evil old ears deceive me there are some heavily treated guitar flourishes about halfway through, that again bring to mind sunshine, just as the track begins to get more complex, calling Harmonia to mind.
Thanks to my German speaking son, I now know that ‘Rote Wüste’, is not a sausage that you know by heart but ‘Red Dessert’. For this track Kreidler relocate themselves somewhere back in the early 80’s using a palette of sounds last heard on ancient LPs by the likes of Japan, Art of Noise, Yello and the artier end of the Cure. I like it almost more than I should do, it’s bouncy. Unfortunately, for me Den hits a bit of a lull, not giving up anything particularly interesting until the rather jarring ‘Winter’. After what sounds like a synth orchestra tuning up Kreidler, suddenly throw in the sound of automatic gunfire, in stark contrast to anything that has gone before it. It never fails to freak me, you can hear the empty cartridges hit the ground. Then the band very cleverly pick up on the rhythm of the shots to drive a strange, disquieting track home.
Den is an interesting album, you can hear the band stretching away from the 70’s Krautrock traditions towards a more American post rock sound, but with some other interesting touches and embellishments too. My main criticism is that whilst there are some great tracks here, overall the album sounds a little disjointed as though Kreidler haven’t quite found their identity yet, or maybe they are just some sequencing issues with the album. There is a very good sense of melody here and each track has interesting things going on, particularly in terms of off-kilter rhythms and beats but there is something a little too pristine here; it may say far more about me than about Kreidler, but I could do with a little more grit in the grooves, a bit more dirt.
Being arty types a series of videos was released with the album in collaboration with Heinz Emigholz, they won German music video awards – I found them to be irredeemably pretentious and boring, maybe I’m just not arty enough. What, me worry?
*the name of a German bike manufacturer.