Eine Kleine Nacht Musik

Eine Kleine Nacht Musik

Eine Kleine Nacht Musik is Henry Smithson, a 30-year-old probably better known to you as either Riton or one half of Gucci Sound System. As Riton he last produced an album in 2004, while both monikers have seemingly been plastered on posters across London since some point ‘round the turn of the millennium. Here Smithson seeks to discard a past that saw him mainline in the role of remixer and electroclash DJ by crafting ten tracks that draw from heroes more noble, namely the kosmische godfathers of the early 1970s.

It’s not immediately obvious if he’s managed to shed his sequined skin. Eine Klein Nacht Musik (“a small serenade” or “a little night music” depending on who’s translating from the German) is an eponymous debut that sits in strange territory. In some respects it seems shy and overly in awe of the influences made obvious in a well-studied, Germans-only mixtape released a fortnight prior to this (Kraftwerk, Faust, Cluster and NEU! are there, of course, as are separate contributions from Edgar Froese and Peter Bauman of Tangerine Dream). What results from this is an almost complete lack of ‘pop’ anchors to break up the lean motorik drive, and though melody tends to be overlooked in favour of rhythmic contemplation it was there at source, even if Smithson’s revisions seem wary of trivialising the kraut canon. Check Rother’s guitar lines on Harmonia’s ‘Deluxe (Immer Wieder)’, for example (it’s in the mixtape, too), though admittedly it’s most obvious in the bands that were active around 1980. It’s hard to recall a tune at will from this record, as they’re buried to an extent where they’re far more likely to drift into your brain of their own accord one hazy afternoon.

Eventually Smithson finds a couple of ways to subdue the inner fan boy; one deliberate and one most probably accidental but both emerging, you imagine, from musical endeavours past. Firstly, moments crop up where he seems to tire of plumbing earnest kraut suites and fucks it off to go dancing – ‘Feueurprobe’, for example, moves from spindly searching to disco Velcro-fuzz, and ‘Besuchen Sie Mich Einmal’ sets clubland lasers to scattershot. What’s perhaps more of a happy mistake is the way Smithson’s image of kosmische seems cloaked by small-hour memories of Kompakt’s minimal techno blueprint, a common trait in contemporary revisions. Bloodlines between the two are close to the skin’s surface of course, most visible at the wrist where textures are wrought out, drums are patient enough to build over several minutes not seeming to care whether or not they ever reach climax.

That Eine Kleine Nacht Musik frequently does is no slur on its maker – while none of its tracks last more than five and half minutes, it nonetheless remains a record that reveals itself over a few listens to be more than the German equivalent of a punk-rock postcard, either the first steps in the forging of a new identity or a fine enough sideline to disco endeavours.

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