DER LABORANT: Kontakt (1998/2012)
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
“Kontakt is a superb album soaked by a great musicality where melodies evolve on structures in constants evolution”
1 Excelsis Dei 10:05
2 Gefallener Engel 9:58
3 Die Maschine 11:41
4 Kontakt 13:52
5 Lazarus 15:15
6 Verwandlungen 8:57
7 Stoersignal (Bonus Track) 6:43
(DDL 76:31) (V.F.)
(New Berlin School, Orchestral EM)
I am of those who discovered the musical universe of Rainbow Serpent on the late. If I remember well, the first album that I heard of this German band was Voyager, released in 1996 and out of print since years. I open this digression because I believe that Rainbow Serpent, formed by Gerd Wienekamp and Frank Specht, is one of the very good EM bands to have passed under the radar. Thus, all their albums before the Manikin years are discontinued since moons, including each of the solo albums from Wienekamp and Specht. KONTAKT was released in 1998 and is soaked with the rhythms and ambiences that we found on Voyager. Evolutionary rhythms, sometimes cosmic and technoïd, coupled to ethereal and morphic ambiences where revolve so many orchestral arrangements as well as electronic tones of all kinds. An album that I missed and which is reedited by SynGate for the biggest pleasure of our ears, at least mines, which includes a bonus track fitting very well in this superb musical odyssey which sounds like an unconfirmed, but so felt, sequel to Voyager. Strangely, one says the same thing about Frank Specht's Sebastian Im Traum.
Excelsis Dei is a very indicator title of the ambiences and rhythms that we find around here. Electronic tones of a spacecraft ring under the hoops of a synth with blurred waves. Envelopes of mist cover this opening with warm caresses which cradle the intro like a soft movement of neo-classical music. Gregorian choirs emerge out of cosmos depths awakening beeps which evolve along a bass line as well as among strange suction-cups pulsations while the breaths and solos of synth roam like snakes forgotten in space-time. The whole thing has a strange auditory fascination; so much the tones are raining from everywhere. We have just crossed the course of 4 minutes and a sequenced bass line spits its staggering keys, jostling the hoops suspended in space and propelling the music towards a chaotic rhythm which bends the spine over the strikings of a bass-drum. A bass-drum that knocks such as the pulsations of a suction cup thirsty for ambience and which forms the uncertain rhythm of Excelsis Dei which gathers the tribal percussions and the related tones of a purely electronic world. In 10 minutes, Gerd Wienekamp makes a real tour de force by displaying the shape of rhythms and ambiences that will lull KONTAKT up until its finale. After a departure filled of a classical approach, the melody of Gefallener Engel takes shape on violins' layers which sing under the vocal exercises of electronic hummingbirds. The violin layers intensify in a good staccato movement to unite those of cellos and the breaths of oboe which lean on fragile chords of a good bass line. Of course, all is electronic, but Gerd Wienekamp weaves a so realistic musical universe that we imagine to be in a movement of contemporary classical music. Only some beeps and other electronic tones thwart the mystery while a furtive rhythm accepts the sweetness of morphic choirs to espouse a staggering approach, like a spiral but with vertical circles. Die Maschine follows with the soloing breaths of a lonely synth to which are joining the chants of a cosmic choir. Sequences resound. They collide and form a chaotic beat which skips and answers to the echo of its resonances. A true intergalactic ride, Die Maschine gallops of an erratic pace under a rain of twisted solos of which the choirs are caressing the soft curves through the nuances in tones and forms of the sequences as well as distorted solos. Fans of Software, we are on familiar ground here.
After a long ambient intro Kontakt livens up around the 5th minute with a fine sequenced pattern where the undisciplined keys collide peacefully. Charming and poetic chords to crystal clear, echoing and felted tones which agglutinate to move towards a more technoïd approach with percussions/pulsations which fidget under a bass line cooing on the metallic jingles of the tssitt-tssitt cymbals. And Kontakt continues its technoïd crusade by amassing diverse related tones, giving to the title-track a rhythmic depth as much fascinating as on Excelsis Dei. Lazarus offers a rather similar introductory pattern with lines of vocalizes which float in a cosmic drift. Fine sequences are ringing, following lost pulsations which go astray in this cosmic waltz. A move which deviates towards an immense oblivion submerged by absent choirs. Good fluty sequences are popping out a little before the 6th minute. Their zigzagging steps draw a rhythm which vacillates under the weight of these wandering choirs and nasal synth lines before espousing an ascending spiral of which every circle amasses a handful of composite tones. It's one of the best tracks on KONTAKT which revolves in a great progressive and complex approach. Verwandlungen begins with jingles of cymbals which sparkle among a mass of cosmic winds. They flitter near fine pulsations of bass-drum to join some unexpected tribal percussions, drawing the lines of a surprising techno flooded by sequences with tones of wooden percussions of which the echo resounds under a waltz of mist. Sequences fall and swirl all around this linear rhythm which pulsates of a hypnotic way under the blades of twisted solos so unique to the signature of Rainbow Serpent. White noises introduce the spectre of Stoersignal which quietly wakes up around a pulsatory approach which is similar to Verwandlungen. The rhythm is soft and flooded by this musical fauna with thousand and one tones which cover all of the rhythms and ambiances of KONTAKT.
KONTAKT is a superb album soaked by a great musicality where melodies, as much cadenced as cosmic, evolve on structures in constants evolution. From ambient to rhythmic, with beats bordering a sweet morphic techno, KONTAKT is making us listen all the beautiful universe of Rainbow Serpent where the multitude of electronic tones gives an incredible relief to this album where we recognized the signature of Gerd Wienekamp. It's an album that pleasantly surprised me and deeply conquered that I recommend without hesitations to all the fans of new Berlin School of the 90's.
Sylvain Lupari (May 10th, 2012) *****
Available at SynGate Bandcamp