FRATOROLER: Augen-Blicke (2017)
Updated: Jan 10
“Augen-Blicke is some pretty good Berlin School, a little more retro, with a delicious bend towards the ambiences of Krautrock from the 70's”
1 Einblick 11:20 2 Weitblick 10:17 3 Rückblick 14:20 4 Augenblick 10:29 5 Silberblick 12:04 SynGate | CD-r FR06
(CD-r/DDL 58:32) (V.F.) (Berlin School, Neo-Krautrock)
It was a question of time before Thomas Köhler and Frank Rothe turn their paths of creativity to go towards another kind than the classical Berlin School. Already that What!, released last year, flirted with the essences of Krautrock, here's that AUGEN-BLICKE confirms a little more the orientation of Fratoroler for an EM livened up by the roots of German progressive rock. The newness? Thomas Köhler adds guitar and percussions to his arsenal of musical instruments which are made, as well as those of Frank Rothe, by the engineers of Manikin. This permutation of the tones from the former days with the modernity of Manikin's range of instruments gives a unique flavor to this neo-Krautrock style where the psychedelic side of the ambiences always remains dominated by the nature of sequencers.
A note of piano diffuses reverberations and melancholic ambiences at the opening of Einblick. A percussive effect, having the regularity of a metronome which is pressed to take the piano melody out of its daydreamer base, increases a form of pressure to create a beat. A bass pulsation hears the call, as well as the guitar which throws solos rolling in loops beneath a musical design which reflects a sound drama. This passive intensity takes root between dark layers and meditative orchestral arrangements which, united to the guitar, brings us back a bit in the universe of Ashra and of Manuel Göttsching. The music widens a dense carpet perfumed by oriental essences whereas, a little as the ambiences, the rhythm remains passive and this even if the sequences hassle a presence which aims to be more harmonious in order to support the charms of a distant flute. The percussive effects of the introduction return haunting the finale of Einblick which drowns itself under these layers and these orchestrations, but which breathes thanks to these guitar solos which come and go in harmonious loops. The play of electronic percussions which introduces us to Weitblick breathes that of Tangerine Dream in the opening of the magnificent Poland. Moreover, the 10 minutes which follow seem to be inspired of this model with a nice crossroad of sequence lines and by the percussive effects which beat and sparkle under the chords of a melodious keyboard and layers of synth in colors as much resounding as a blue azure. Streaming of twinkling sequences, keyboard chords as well as a little more colorful effects try to take us away from the inspirations of this legendary title from the trio Franke, Froese and Schmoelling but it's a waste of time because that all that turn around it, I even hear echoes of Logos, leads us irreparably to this impressive work of TD.
We are entitled to a small chthonian pause with the introduction of Rückblick. Lines of flutes, satanic choir and effects of neutralizing gas flood our ears which jump slightly with the unexpected arrival of harmonious ringings of small seraphic bells. We feel the rhythm waking up slowly, like an impatient horse which has just awaken, around the 4th minute. But like an effect of spell, the Memotron flute calms down this impulse which seems to be born only from my imagination. The rhythmic portion will wake up rather at about the 6th minute with a resonant sequence, as if it came from the big Moog of Redshift. The awakening takes its time and appears with a less dark line which skips and crosses the alternate movement of the sequencer such as scissors dancing in a music tissue. That gives these beautiful electronic rhythms which zigzag with a thousand small steps pressed in an environment as charming as the golden years of vintage EM. With percussions and guitars, Augenblick offers a good cosmic rock a bit psychedelic of the same years. The sound as well as the wall of effects and ambiences, and especially the jerky percussions, are stylizing a very vintage Ashra. If I quite enjoyed Weitblick, I find Silberblick much better. The link which unites these two titles is the skeleton of the static rhythm. Except that here the synths, very in mode Tangerine Dream, are clearly more dominant and breathe laments of a scarlet blue that make the eardrums burst with sound effects and a veil of music which flirt with a dramatico-intense approach. Little by little, the title gets loose from its static membrane and offers a more fluid rhythm which reminds me Green Desert, as much for the percussions which sound so much like these old electronic beat-boxes than these lines and layers from a synth which at the end throws some really good solos as the end get nearer. The art of imitating Tangerine Dream without that nothing looks like!
I would say a little less in creative mode than What!, except that AUGEN-BLICKE stays in the continuity of the previous Fratoroler albums. It's some pretty good Berlin School, a little more retro, with a delicious bend towards the ambiences of Krautrock from the 70's. But not enough to frighten those who were always cooled by this musical genre consumed in the time by strong hallucinogenic drugs. And those who were unable to resist to Poland will be delighted to hear essences of it, in this way that Thomas Köhler and Frank Rothe have to reproduce the sound of Tangerine Dream without that nothing, or almost, sounds like it!
Sylvain Lupari (November 22nd, 2017) ***¾**
Available at SynGate Bandcamp