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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

FILTER-KAFFEE: 105 (2021)

Old guard and new vision cohabit very well on this album that never ceases to amaze

1 Stones 13:18

2 Stonehenge 14:37

3 Hidden Temple 13:48

4 Am Bach ... bei den Kieselsteinen 1:38

Manikin Records | MRCD 7108

(CD/DDL E.P. 43:32) (V.F.)

(Progressive Berlin School)

Manikin Records has been quite discreet in 2021. There was Check In from Kontroll-Raum in spring, Analog Overdose 6 from Fanger & Schönwälder and finally this 105 from Filter Kaffee, project uniting Mario Schönwälder and Frank Rothe. This time the German duo proposes an E.P., the second one after 100 in 2016, which flirts with 44 minutes and has a first theme; rocks. A difficult subject that Schönwälder and Rothe circumvent by being inspired more by their parallel universes; their forms, their environments and their languages that are expressed through the winds that century after century modify their textures. So, an album, because at 44 minutes we can call it an album, of music of well-polished atmospheres through these rhythms unique to the signature of the Manikin label.

Stones opens in a typical Berlin School chthonian atmosphere. Dark winds filled with unfathomable voices and typical Dark Ambient sound effects continue to ascend until the sequencer makes its rhythmic presence felt around the 6th minute. The movement is spontaneous with a series of jerky pulses of which the sharp alternating jumps cut through the membrane to create a second adjacent line. These leaps distort their tonal identities somewhat as they become buried by a nice spectral synth melody. Layers of voices come and go, enchanting our ears as they barely notice the spasmodic movement that turns into lively orchestral staccatos. A good evolving and changing rhythm structure that struggles to pass the 5-minute point before Stones returns to the cradle of its conception. It's in the uncertainty that Stonehenge evolves. Beats flutter without rhythmic design after an opening disrupted by the presence of organic sounds, brief but sinister orchestral arrangements and reverberating effects. The ambiances reveal the color of the stars, like those of the electronic effects on orchestrations which melt in the ear. And always these beats frolic following the evolutions and the changes of decor. A structure finally takes shape some 30 seconds after the 5th minute. Restructuring the source of the beats, it brings them back to form a line of mellow balls that jump arrhythmically in an increasingly hazy passage. They're barely playful, even disappearing momentarily, when synth solos and orchestrations stifle their will a couple of minutes before a gothic finale.

It's a journey to the heart of the Phaedra years that the opening of Hidden Temple leads us. We are in the years of sound experimentations where mellotron and synthesizer effects shared the share of the charms. A beat emerges from this psychedelic fog about 30 seconds before the 4th minute. It becomes a kind of minimalist procession struggling to walk under this weight of sound effects, avian parodies and synthesizer sound graffitis in a zone of dread well initiated by the presence of the organic rattles that invited themselves before the first beats. Transforming their breaths into trumpets that lack a piston, these synths become witnesses of a new rhythmic alliance, around the 8th minute, accelerating a stationary rhythm that seduces by the vivacity of the jumping keys. A very good passage before the sequencer makes crumbling its rhythmic line around the 12th minute, leaving Hidden Temple to explain the why in ears stunned by a finale where the stridency of the synths and the softness of the mellotron still continue to argue. The lapping of water and the winds of Am Bach ... bei den Kieselsteinen remind us how this EP has started.

Offered in a manufactured CD format in a cardboard envelope as in download, 105 from Filter Kaffee introduces us to a new approach of the tandem Schönwälder and Rothe. I liked the sound effects, especially in Stonehenge, and the melodious and spectral tunes that crisscross its paths. The old guard and the new vision cohabit very well on this album that never ceases to amaze.

Sylvain Lupari (January 1st, 2022) ****¼*

Available at Manikin Bandcamp

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