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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

GRAUGLANZ: Zuflucht (2020)

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Built around 7 tracks, the album is focused on haunting rhythmic approaches which swirl beneath rich textures of sounds

1 die sehnsucht nach leere 8:01

2 dunkeldüsterwolkenschwer 9:47

3 die kreatur hebt den blick zum himmel 20:06

4 von der qual und dem lohn 17:00

5 innerwärts 10:04

6 und das herz geht auf und ab 10:48

7 heimkehr 8:33

(CD-R/DDL 84:23) (V.F.)

(Electronic Music, Berlin School)

Bernd Scholl discovered Grauglanz's music through a German radio station. He heard a track and had a crunch on it. He then contacted the musician and after some telephone conversations, MellowJet Records had an agreement to produce the official discography of the Essen-born musician on CD-R HQ. And it started with ZUFLUCHT, the last album which was officially available at the end of 2019 on the Bandcamp site of this independent artist. At the same time, a Best of was put on CD-R by the German label, Grauglanz - Elected Pieces. The sound quality is very good with a crisp and precise output of 24 Bits. What is Grauglanz's music all about? I'll just talk about this ZUFLUCHT which exceeds the capacity of a CD with 84 minutes and dust on its meter. Built around 7 tracks, the album is focused on haunting rhythmic approaches. Nothing to complicate! Lines of rhythms which, for the most part, swirl with minimalist elements designed by a mesh of bass pulsations, sequences and electronic percussions. Have you noticed that the titles are long? Indeed, but the developments remain minimalist with peaks of velocity contained in a monomaniac vision. So, there is no overflow from a Berlin School train! It's at the level of a fusion of rhythms and ambiences that everything happens. In order to better situate you, I am thinking among others of the world of Johannes Schmoelling, at the start of his solo career, which I best identify with ZUFLUCHT's music.

Timidly, die sehnsucht nach leere comes to life with a chord whose frank echo relays its shadow which becomes more and more insistent. Percussions, similar to these blows of the gullet that the rappers make, imitate the stroke of the pendulum and forge a stable rhythm which accommodates layers of synths gorged with whitish dust. These layers become the main harmonic attraction for a slow structure that keeps this motus operandi up until its final. As a first title, I didn't climb to the curtains! It's sober and well done. But at the same time, there is something that makes us hook into ZUFLUCHT's music and that will last until heimkehr's last breath. It was on the 3rd listening that I really got hooked on this strange dunkeldüsterwolkenschwer funeral opening. Here again, the rhythm base is structured on the principle of 5 pulses / percussions that a line of the sequencer surrounds by a youthful and circular presence. This rhythmic wheel develops with more velocity, carrying this macabre layer which remains attached since the opening of this unpronounceable title for me. So, the rhythm skipping with naivety nests in a rich tonal fauna which favors an active ambient approach with sequences and bass pulsations which sparkle while stigmatizing a static approach. The title is quite haunting in terms of its evolution with a feeling that reminds me of Johannes Schmoelling in the Wuivend Riet era. Ditto for von der qual und dem lohn, but in the meantime die kreatur hebt den blick zum Himmel offers an ambient opening with synth tears crying such as in the harmonies of a Theremin. A long rhythm structure conceived on the previous title, but with an excessively obese snail slowness, begins slowly with coordinated jumps in ambient rhythm mode. The envelope is mainly represented by a synth and its tears in an introduction to the land of organized dreams. The structure becomes much more active after crossing the 10-minute gate. Taking advantage of its echo effects and symmetrical loops, it activates a very good cosmic rock that literally makes me stomp my foot in an environment stuffed with lines in more sibylline than seraphic colors and sparkling chords and keyboard riffs that die and are born in a confusion relatively comfortable to the ear. These melodic as well as rhythmic chords remain in the same rotary axis of this ambient rhythm which stays capped by circular waves, throwing an aura of black fantasy on this long track which takes its opposite route towards the 16th minute.

In an almost identical canvas, von der qual und dem lohn spreads out its 17 minutes in a minimalist structure which quietly updates its increasing velocity from the 7th minute. Percussions are grafted to this rampant spiral with the nobility of a good bass line. Good organic effects also sparkle in this decor which continues to put pressure on our obsessive values. Conceived on spectral synth layers and tears, innerwärts is linked to the concept of slow and soft rhythm, never exploited until now on this album. Bewitching, this slow tempo welcomes multiple chords coming from everywhere, including these ambient riffs of an isolated guitar which thus adds another tonal color to the already well-stocked palette of ZUFLUCHT. I have a vision of the tribal rhythms of Ashra partying ambient in another planet when I hear und das herz geht auf und ab. The bouncing rhythm is structured more on the harmonies of the synth, which ululate like those of a guitar, as well as multiple rhythmic chords which roll in loops and jump in a spheroidal envelope. I hung less here and I even found und das herz geht auf und ab a bit long. We stay in this area of Space Funk à la Ashra and Robert Schroeder with heimkehr. A track truly animated by a danceable structure, like a cosmic belly rub, where a Funk tendency is transformed little by little into cosmic rhythm'n'blues. And that ends an album by making us say that its author has other things than minimalist structures, very obsessive by the way, to offer to our ears.

Sylvain Lupari (September 2nd, 2020) *****

Available at MellowJet Records

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