KLAUS HOFFMANN-HOOCK & BERNHARD WOSTHEINRICH: Conundrum (2007)
Updated: Apr 9
“Enveloping guitar and sitar layers with soft electronica rhythms, Conundrum leads the listener to the borders of a psychedelic work”
1 Virupaksha 8:00
2 Bowed Visions 8:12
3 Conundrum 9:21
4 Phased Realities 5:55
5 Swarmandel 10:07
6 Flavia's Paradise 6:40
7 Moonlit 8:17
(CD/DDL 56:45) (V.F.)
Following the publication of my column on Mind Over Matter's Trance'n'Dance album, I received an email from my good friend Bernhard Wöstheinrich asking me if I wanted to talk about his collaboration with Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock for the album CONUNDRUM. The title vaguely reminded me of something. After delving into my archives, I finally found that I had talked about this album a long time ago. Here's what it was all about. Resurrection of a chronicle and music that I had forgotten in the corridors of time.
With the multiple chimes which resonate, we expect a very ethereal moment, even a pious one, whilst a nervous bass line and agile leaping sequences are making a structure of rhythm as elusive as the murmurs that flutter all around it. Fluid and well arched on these elements a bit funky, while being well pounded by electronic percussions, Virupaksha jumps in its psychedelic plumage on a provocative beat which sounds even like a genre of dance music. Between techno morphic and spatial disco, the tempo is flavored with elements of psybient and countless strata of synths, guitars and electric sitars whose evanescent harmonies are coiled up above the percussions and sequences which gradually weigh down the cadence. Although relatively discreet, the screeches of the guitar obsess the senses. And this will be the case throughout CONUNDRUM. Although the album is not quite so explosive, the duo Hoffmann-Hoock & Wöstheinrich, flanked by Markus Reuter and Ian Boddy on electronic percussion and sequencers, plunges into the heart of Sri Lanka's ethnic puzzle by exploiting the floating, celestial and almost vampiric layers of guitars and sitars on movements with progressive and temperate rhythms. The amalgam brings the listener to the borders of a psychedelic work with ambiospheric elements that are close to Indian tribal essences. It's moreover a tearful layer of guitar which opens the rather celestial atmospheres of Bowed Visions. The thick pile of layers multiplies its shadows. These are making sparkle dense and strident lines, and others more subdued, which intersect in an ambient sonic magma. A rhythmic structure emerges a little after the 3rd minute. Delicate, it trots like a gentle ballad without stories.
The title track exploits a little the same vision with an intro where the tears of the stringed instruments mingle in the hubbub of synth pads in colors of nothingness and the murmurs of an astral voice with ethnic breaths. This is a nice ambient intro which serves as an entrance to a very good rhythm which explodes a little after the 4th minute. Lively and a bit jerky, it gallops a little more than trots with a good mesh of bass sequences and percussion whose subtle velocity eats us squarely at a first listening. It's very beautiful, very invasive and Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock's guitar chews on its rhythm and its moods, while Conundrum becomes more and more fluid. I feel through this title some elements that would have influenced the madness of Thorsten Quaeschning's guitar in the superb Utopia album from Bernd Kistenmacher. It's a great title! Phased Realities bites our ears with a gurgling bass line. The rhythm is suspended and devious. It gets caught up in percussions and tickled by the elytra of cymbals. We enter the lands of electronica with electronic percussions which click and twirl around a Groove movement decorated with a mixture of synth and guitar strata whose slow harmonies weave ambient landscapes. Warm synth pads (or guitars?) are filling the very ambient intro of Swarmandel. We hear pulsations fomenting a rebellion, as well as electronic thinning which let appear the celestial harmonies of an esoteric guitar. The rhythm slumbers and snores. It rebels a little after the third-minute point, that is to say after the last tickling of Klaus' six-strings. It sparkles and hops nervously, guiding the rhythm of an up-beat without gravity which goes, leaves and returns in the oscillations of a bass line and the dislocated streamers of an ethereal guitar. This structure of rhythm interspersed between semi-ambient phases finds its niche also on Flavia's Paradise with bass movements which undulates with force before squeezing under the clouds of atmospheres drawn by a six-string and synths loaded of sibylline scents. There is a constant noise on this title as well as nice ethereal passages. Moments adorned with chirps and tears from a six-string that remind us of the psychedelic essence of this album. Moonlit ends this eclectic encounter between the two universes of Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock and Bernhard Wöstheinrich with an ambient title where the guitar lets mourning harmonies floating in the winds stuffed of sonic particles.
Not quite easy to tame, CONUNDRUM is in the spirit of the DiN label. It's an album with tasty heterogeneous and experimental essences well served by rhythms which touch from the end of their sequences, of the bass lines and percussions, the lands of electronica. As a result, there is a good mix between these rhythms and those rich atmospheres sewn with a fascinating obsession to make everything very difficult to tame. This is exactly the principle of an enigma. It piques curiosity. It becomes obsessive. And it ends up finding answers. Here the answers are in the forms of a music whose borders are always defined a little better with each new listening. We must not forget that we are in 2007. I emphasize this fact because we hear here and there elements which seem familiar to us, in particular in the universe of the psybient and the ambient tribal, demonstrating the rather avant-garde approach of this duet, in fact of this quartet, rather eclectic.
Sylvain Lupari (March 14th, 2015) *****
Available at DiN