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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Kelmen Results (2023)

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

One of the finest album to come out of Manikin in a very long time

1 First Result 20:26

2 Second Result 32:24

3 Third Result 9:54

4 Fourth Result 12:42

(CD/DDL 74:48) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

Like the DiN and Groove labels, Manikin is a safe bet when it comes to buying a manufacture-pressed CD of Berlin School-style electronic music (EM) and its derivatives. If these 3 labels have a sound aesthetic that specifically identifies their sounds, Mario Schönwälder's label is the one that stands out for its limpid tonality linked to its own instruments and a style that is less eclectic than that of DiN and Groove. We know straight away what the music of the label's craftsmen is made of; neo-Berlin School revamped by this panoply of synthesizers, mellotrons and sequencers designed by their musician-engineers. And as with these 2 labels, it happens that a beautiful nugget, a little masterpiece pops out to delight those ears that have become more selective and demanding over the years. Kelmen's RESULTS is just such a musical nugget! A project formed by Detelf Keller and Michael Menzman Menze, who met in Hilden (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) during a jam session involving musician-synthesist friends, KELller & MezMEN developed a chemistry that they decided to pursue in Detlev Keller's studios. Which brings us to this album, one of the finest to come out of Manikin in a very long time.

A gliding synth wave combining violin strings and shadowy texture welcomes the album's first mellotron blast. Combining flute and saxophone tones, this plaintive melody and its Middle Eastern essence receive the caresses of a female voice, reminiscent of the ambient, tribal works of the Repelen series from Broekhuis, Keller, Schönwälder, Ebert & Kagermann. This atmospheric opening stretches its charms over 3 minutes, as the sequencer frees leaping arpeggios that gambol innocently from ear to ear. Exhaling grave synth pads are adding a dramatic touch to this neuron-dancing rhythm, reminding me rather of Jean-Michel Jarre's Arpegiateur, while hazy saxophone melodies continue to take our senses to an oriental destination. This second phase of First Result takes its minimalist round on a 7-minute musical journey before the music heads for a 3rd metamorphosis around the 10-minute mark. The change is subtle, with a more pulsating movement of the sequencer which is structuring an ambient circular rhythm where further floating laments from the synth extend, dividing its saxophone tones quite nicely from those closer to the usual electronic boundaries. Astral vocal layers, echo of tinklings and other electronic textures embellish the last 10 minutes of a track that explores the labyrinths of a New Berlin School with a rhythm as dreamy as magnetizing.

Spanning over 30 minutes, Second Result is the highlight of this first Menze&Keller collaboration. This little gem of evolutionary music would probably not have the same impact without the presence of Dirk Brand, who was also drummer-percussionist on Menzman & Friends' Insights album. You can hear the friction of his cymbals right from the opening. The chirping synth effects are discreet and the vibrating circular synth waves inject a dark, droning texture to this opening, where another synth stretches out solos with plaintive harmonies. Scattered percussive hits are putting our listening on alert, while fingers on an electric piano mutate the synthesizer's ambient melodies. A certain complicity can be heard between this piano and the drums, even guiding Second Result towards its first rhythmic ride a few seconds after the 5-minute mark. Finding momentum beneath the keyboard melody, the sequencer sculpts an undulating rhythm. Imagine the gentle rhythmic dangling of P.T.O. in Body Love, but with a faster flow, and you have this first rhythmic structure in Second Result. A beautiful flute covers this jerky upward motion, leading the drummer to unleash a few strikes. Ethereal voices and layers of orchestral mist are added, along with sound effects that bring us closer to the world of Robert Schroeder and seductive percussive elements that add an organic touch to this rhythmic phase that is constantly being caressed by the cymbals. A 3rd mutation takes place around the 17-minute mark, bringing a faster rhythm with lively sequencer oscillations whose jerky fluctuations structure a spasmodic phase under a plethora of sound effects and synthesizer textures usual to the style. The sequencer rolls its rhythm balls at a speed that would trip some, creating a seductive dribbling effect under a blaze of sonic fireworks. And if the movement loses a little speed, it's to better redirect its rhythm, which embraces a form of EDM, reminding me of the rhythmic explosion of Ashra's famous 12 Samples title in the Sauce Hollandaise album as well as in the superb @shra. Pure bliss! These 2 tracks, clocking in at around 53 minutes, are well worth the purchase of the CD. But Kelmen graces our ears with 2 other tracks, less solid but just as enjoyable.

A heavy layer of resonance gives a dramatic texture to the opening of Third Result, which clings to our ears with a vampiric synthesized melody that oscillates in a repetitive way. The tonal backdrop creates a kind of swirling effect in the musical background, weighing down a music of which the modulations in color and the shapes of oscillations diminish the repetitive aspect of its melody. Misty orchestrations, keyboard chords and other electronic effects add a little color to a rather hypnotic EM. Fourth Result opens with a solemn orchestral approach. The keyboard releases a kind of inverted procession, where the glass arpeggios of an austere yet nostalgic melody weave a heavy cinematic atmosphere. Cymbals shiver over the random rolls of the drums. The orchestrations are in tune, and we're in for a dark, highly theatrical texture that takes us back to the days of Walter Christian Rothe and his magnificent, romantic Let the Night Last Forever. Everything changes as we approach the 5-minute mark. The rhythm gets pulsating, with bass sequences bouncing around with fine modulations in the timbre. Divine, the mellotron continues the melodic axis begun by the keyboard, while percussions give the rhythm a second boost, structuring an electronic rock that's hungry to dance. The sequencer makes dribbling its cadenced chords and the synth-mellotron multiplies its enchanting solos, screwing our ears to our senses for the umpteenth time in a finale that can only command another listen to RESULTS.

Sylvain Lupari (July 1st, 2923) ****¾*

Available at Manikin Records

(NB: Texts in blue are links you can click on)

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