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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KI COMPANION: Music for Cars (2020)

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Music for Cars offers 10 melodious and very catchy tracks composed in a progressive synth-pop vision for the road

1 Fernreise 4:28

2 Kreisverkehr 4:55

3 Nebel 4:51

4 Tankstelle 4:20

5 Rastplatz 7:21

6 Das Rennen 5:12

7 Ueberland 6:52

8 Scheinwerfer 8:12

9 Nachtfahrt 6:35

10 Werkstatt 5:22

(CD/DDL 57:50) (V.F.)

(Progressive Synth-Pop)

There are albums which, like that, we like at the first listen. Albums that devour us with their naivety and simplicity with beautiful and melodious music on catchy rhythms. MUSIC FOR CARS by Ki Companion is the latest find from Bernd Scholl and his label Mellow-Jet Records. Very often, music and car are closely linked in order to better connect the driver to the feeling of driving. And the faster it goes, the more we become intoxicated by this feeling of wild artificial freedom. I have made cassettes and CDs by the tens, if not hundreds, to either celebrate a new car or simply accompany me on long journeys on Quebec's highways. And I am sure that I am not alone. Even if it's obvious for Ki Companion, the music of Drive Inn from Klaus Schulze & Rainer Bloss didn't suit him. So, he made the decision to compose music that would suit him. MUSIC FOR CARS offers 10 tracks all very catchy. Melodious tracks composed in a progressive synth-pop vision where I felt the influences of Pet Shop Boys, Michael Rother, Depeche Mode and even Kraftwerk indicate the routes to follow or the speed to take in this album which literally got me seduces from the first listen. As long as I did everything, like listening to it repeatedly, to see if this perception would last ... Yes, the charm has persisted! And it still does…

And we don't even have time to think about it with Fernreise! The rhythm borrows a fluid avenue which awakens in me this desire to listen to Death In Vegas, more specifically Hands Around my Throat played in a more animated version here. We are in the EM universe where sequencer, electronic percussion and bass line take a long linear highway. And it's therefore with curt pulsations that the super catchy rhythm seized our hands which can tap on the steering wheel. The approach of Andreas Mayer, the man behind the Ki Companion project and who has no connection with Nord, is minimalist. The rhythmic framework is mounted on these bass sequenced pulsations, a good bass line with a bit funky flow and very discreet percussions in a cross between the linear rhythm and another line which goes up and down in this model of Berlin School's well-structured electronic rock. The keyboard is the object that replaces the voices in a synth-pop band by weaving a harmonic approach which acts as the refrain. A refrain as timed as the overshoots that can be seen in the video while another line of moiré arpeggios adds poetry without words. It's eye-catching and it's designed in a way that the vision of a fluid highway clings to the rhythm structures. And it's with this in mind that the music for the album was designed. I wouldn't describe all the titles with as much precision, but that gives you an overall idea of the 10 compositions on the album. The titles in German also represent situations related to automobiles. The minimalist structures are present to accommodate various rhythmic and harmonic elements that add speed and decor. There are structures that stand out with a different flow and their presence adorns this simplistic vision that we can have of the 10 electronic hymns of MUSIC FOR CARS. In my opinion, most of the title names don't necessarily match what is happening here in North America. Kreisverkehr is something that easily implants an earworm. It's a nice circular minimalist melody that spins and spins while K.I. Companion adds arpeggios and percussive effects in a universe of charms and shimmering. The title, which means roundabout, takes a few seconds to think of the next avenue, but it returns to its original pattern with more bite. These supply points are found on a few tracks and they serve as springboards to improve the performance of the rhythm, but at no time does the music pass through ambient phases.

Nebel offers a good entraining Teutonic rhythm with robotic percussions and synth blades groaning like static leaves fluttering in the air after being denied by their branches. I didn't feel the presence of fog, perhaps at the very end, on this lively structure. Tankstelle installs a frame of heavy and slow rhythm, as if it were dragging the weight of the world on his notes. The percussion strikes resonate like these children's drums while the synth follows the pace of the beat. The rhythm of Rastplatz slyly deposits its pulses in a teeming opening of static sequences and synthesized murmurs. A veil of mist installs this chthonian cachet and solidifies into a metallic material which comes and goes periodically on the slow procession of Rastplatz. Its transition phase becomes muddled with an effect of hesitation for a short period and the music returns with more liveliness. Das Rennen offers a more lively structure in good synth-pop with a line of sound spasms which launches a slow but attractive stroboscopic effect. Ueberland is another good progressive synth-pop with a catchy beat which makes good use of its 7 minutes to insert samples of guitars and other sound effects quite attractive when listening. Scheinwerfer is an excellent track with a rhythm supported by good Teutonic percussions and a bass line which structures a good driving speed. The harmonic approach is a bit equal to that of Fernreise while the curves and turns are beautifully constituted by a creative synth and in a Depeche Mode way. Let's say the title takes advantage of its 8 minutes to explore more progressive areas. The robotic rhythm à la Gary Numan, Nachtfahrt takes on the appearance of an alien, the percussive language is simply delicious, in a park by the presence of a leader whistling a spectral tune, hands in pockets and hopping with a reverb effect in the look. An excellent title while Werkstatt seems to run out of gas, I understand that the car is at the workshop, in a final which tends to think that the next drive of Ki Companion will be even better. In the meantime, MUSIC FOR CARS is a very pleasant surprise in what the most minimalist and simplistic EM has to offer.

Sylvain Lupari (19/06/20) *****

Available at Mellow-Jet Records

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