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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Detlef Keller Behind the Tears (1999-2011)

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

Behind the Tears is a great fresco of a minimalist electronic art which depicts with wonder the Teutonic electronic universe of the 90's

Tears 1 13:24 Tears 2 3:42 Tears 3 6:18 Tears 4 6:03 Tears 5 13:55 Tears 6 21:58 Tears 7 5:14 Tears 8 6:55

(CD/DDL 77:52) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

One of the big disadvantages to like a more marginal music is to notice the pure and simple disappearance of jewels that have ennobles its crown. Released in 1999 on Manikin, this BEHIND THE TEARS from Detlef Keller is a very beautiful album that sadly went out of print since moons. Thanks to SynGate, which specializes in the re releasing of great EM works lost in the lack of financial resources, this superb fresco of a minimalist electronic art is for available level in a version which respects the sound depth of its originality.

Right from the beginning Detlev Keller shows all his control of the Teutonic minimalist art with Tears 1 which widens its 13 minutes with rhythmic and harmonious elements which are juxtapose in a mesmerizing minimalist structure, builder of earworm. The intro begins with a rippling metallic which spreads out an intense melancholic veil. Gliding on ochred mists, it invites a timid line of piano to make skip crystal-clear notes in uncertainty before following the soft gallop forged in the pulsations of a bass line. Quietly Tears 1 takes shape. The synth lines introduce a dramatic approach à la Vangelis, enveloping a harmonic pattern which is amplifying on a velocity augmented by the skipping of the line of bass. And the whole thing is toppling over finely towards the 4th minute when the piano elaborates its harmonious approach with some subtle variances in the movement and tone, while that the rhythm becomes heavier, more pulsatory with hypnotic knocks of percussions. Fluty lines are appropriating the strummed melody, while percussions of Bongo style drums adorn a cadence perfumed of these lines of apocalyptic Vangelis synth. And the rhythm explodes at around the 6th minute. Heavier, curt and steady it skips firmly keeping jealously the harmonious lines of its genesis which fatten a musical itch lost into uncountable layers with sinister ambiences. Tears 2 offers a soft lullaby like we heard with these ballerinas which swirled in the musical boxes of our youth. The musical envelope is very poignant with its line of acuteness flute, its dreamy choruses and its orchestral pads which wrap up a wonderful innocent bed song which widens these harmonious ramifications up until the beginnings of Tears 3 which takes the rhythmic airs of Chariots of Fire. It's another very beautiful track showing an excellent hold of poignant melodies from Detlev Keller. Tears 4 presents a splendid cinematographic structure with violent hits of bows of which the hatched pads forge an echoing structure. Fluty lines and nostalgic piano are hooking in a heart-rending mood finely depicted on a music of the most dramatic. And of its serial dexterity, Keller spreads his musical armaments which intensify a structure become as heavy as the sorrow that it transports.

Tears 5 transports us in an a little more experimental sphere of BEHIND THE TEARS with an approach closer to studio improvisations than of a coherent minimalist montage. The intro is filled with a thick mist where hums a synth of its ghostly line. Riffs of guitar are structuring a latent rhythm which gets organized in the background whereas that the bass line is more direct by freeing pulsating chords. The minimalist shroud pierces this cerebral introduction with a rhythmic structure which settles down little by little, elaborating a furtive pace which beats under suave twisted solos and short lines of sequences. This shy rhythm is of use as basis to a structure that will explode a little after the 6th minute, offering a sharply more homogeneous rhythm where sequences and percussions hop with firmness under the breezes and intense solos of a synth as harmonious as acrobatic. Tears 6 continues the exploration of more progressive musical structures and closer to the soils of a calculated improvisation. The intro is of ether with Bernd Braun's guitar (Arcanum) who scatters his notes and his evasive melody in the scattered breaths of flutes and breezes of synth which throw a black meditative ambience. A line of crystal-clear sequences shakes its keys which glitter as a circular prismic movement, while Tears 6 goes out little by little of its rhythmic languor to swirl in the silvery furrows of sequences. These sequences stretch out their impacts, chiselling the ambience of scissors snips of which the crisscrossed steps flicker around percussions and jingle of cymbals which are on the watch. They watch this slow rhythm which increases on the rotating dance of sequences. And Tears 6 goes out of its torpor in the halfway. Pounded by pulsatory percussions, the rhythm is linear and hypnotic. It lays the foundations for a Teutonic movement that nervous sequences are amplifying of a frenzied pace, giving free rein to a synth and a guitar that are exchanging great solos, as in a jam of e-blues. Tears 7 knocks down the order of things and is the witness of the very big versatility from Keller & Schonwalder's other half. The rhythm is fiery, tilting sharply into Jean-Michel Jarre's techno with intensive hammerings of a hypnotic bass-drum, agile rolling of percussions and lively sequences of which the crisscrossed movements team up very well with the vertiginous orchestral arrangements that had made the delights of dance floors. Look out for your walls and floor slats! These influences of Jarre can also be found on Tears 8, which on the other hand is quieter, although very intense, with heavy and dark layers of a black organ that reminds me the period Revolutions. The structure is dark and dramatic. It's built in the mould of the tear 4 but with a more somber approach and intensely more melancholic. A soft melody swirls there. Flogged by dark pads, it isolates itself to get lost in intense layers of a big black organ which swallows all its delicate fragility.

In the numbers of the excellent initiatives of Syngate, BEHIND THE TEARS revolves at the top of list. This superb album of Detlef Keller has the right to a 2nd life. Its minimalist structures, its rhythms of lead, its heart-rending melodies and its ambiences of cerebral mysteries make of it an inescapable in the Teutonic electronic universe. Manikin is now on Bandcamp and the rights of this album are now on its label. Click on Manikin's Bandcamp to follow the link.

Sylvain Lupari (November 29th, 2012) *****

Available at Manikin's Bandcamp

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