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Dieter Moebius
Kram Daniel Ross , September 22nd, 2009 06:27

Former Harmonia member and Eno collaborator Dieter Moebius here embarks on exactly the kind of trip one would imagine taking with a slightly grizzled experimenter. Atop the blueprint of some of his former work Moebius has built sick unease and atmospheric sophistication that conjure a bizarre dystopia. Not nightmarish in the traditional sense, Kram (translating as 'Stuff') is comfortable in its unrest, even encouraging us to evoke our own nightmares to accompany these slowly sprawling works.

The pace of the record is key to its success; from the opening track onwards, Kram must be viewed as a whole. When it begins with jarring Vangelis-derived synthesizer and aimless toying, 'Start' is not so different to its own ending. The tonality hints at the major, but never lets it overrule the atmosphere of ponderous movement as clanks and industry voice their opinions on the material. That there is a five-minute period where rhythms are introduced and gently squeezed into being is irrelevant — it's the widescreen view that must be adhered to.

There's an unhurried, abstract approach throughout: suites come to pass, taking in motorik propulsion and the occasional unfulfilled melodic potential, but you're left without a sense of resolution. Treated licks of electric instrumentation come tantalisingly close to expanding into full-blown tunefulness, but Moebius has his sights set purely on creating an atmosphere. Occasionally, as on the haunted 'Womit', time appears to stand still. Textures refuse progress only at the pace bid by their creator; Moebius expertly keeps things ticking along with just enough interest to capture the ear. Melodic fragments swirl and beg to be explored, but the nature of the compositions means they must be sacrificed so as not to cloy.

Though at times difficult to penetrate, quiet and reflective listening to Kram will reward massively. It's heartening that such a sonic technician still operates, and relieving to discover that his muse has progressed and matured, rather than aged. Kram is a record that will totally envelope, test and invigorate.