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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Kontroll-Raum Check In (2021)

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Check In is an album of rhythms, percussions and percussive effects...

1 Gentlemen, Start Your Engines 7:12

2 Escape 38 11:36

3 Raum 23 11:17

4 Pour Alain 9:01

5 For a Roadmovie 10:53

6 C9 05-05 12:50

7 Check Out 10:06

(CD/DDL 73:07) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

A familiar precept, it is with a rising wave of mist that Gentlemen, Start your Engines draws its musicality to put it in ears well-versed in ME introductions. Crumpling effects sculpt a gloomy vision well supported by menacing shadows and percussive effects thrown randomly of its slow evolution. Tam-tams witness this transformation into a chloroformed layer that makes floating its ample oscillating modulations with a slight Middle Eastern flavor in the hollow of its curves. If the percussions inject more speed, percussive effects in the style of Jean-Michel Jarre, from his Revolutions album, attract the attention of this ear always in search of diversified tonalities and which merge in hypnotic symbiosis with this slow rhythm of Gentlemen, Start Your Engines. A very good title whose two bubbling last minutes are an invitation to discover the very good polyrhythmic universe of CHECK IN. Kontroll-Raum is a new trio from the house of Manikin consisted of Bas Broekhuis, Frank Rothe and Mario Schönwälder. Mario being the link between the two other musicians to be part of Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder and Filter-Kaffee with Frank Rothe. Two different universes which meet on structures in constant evolution and especially in a very beautiful polyrhythmic vision. Pandemic obliges, this album was conceived at distance and by video sessions assembled and mixed by Frank Rothe. Available in CD Digipack and in download, CHECK IN is an album of rhythms, percussions and percussive effects, giving 73 minutes of a ME that transcends the universe of BKS' colors and church parties.

Electronic sounds fluttering in a narrow corridor are at the origin of Escape 38. Once the first minute mark is passed, a very Teutonic BKS-like rhythm begins to pulse. At the limit, you could say a kind of train with looping effects of a synth-guitar spinning with more sharpness in the sonic delirium. And some 90 seconds later, another form of rhythm with limpid sequences becomes in a state of hesitation. Voice effects adorn this circular phase that the trio has chosen to make germinate ephemeral ideas. Sequences swirling with increasing intensity project this vision of emphasis as the rushes of textures become more and more pressing. A rumbling bass line adds to this circular rhythmic spiral with prismatic harmonies from that synth-guitar, while my ears pick up delicious vibrating jet effects. Intense, this rhythmic station ends up cutting the engines. We move on to Raum 23 and its eclectic pool of tones with African percussions. There are many percussive elements in this opening. The meshing of these elements creates the first rhythmic structure. It is a bit like being on a war footing with this insistent rhythm which finally becomes a good electronic rhythm moving forward under a tonal sky stained with heterogeneous tones of the most diversified. Become minimalist, Raum 23 continues its progression by dipping here and there in the tonal buffet of Kontroll-Raum. A very good title which finds its value by raising the volume of our amplifier.

For Alain is a good track with a sentimental flavor. Sequencer, bass line-pulses and a treasure trove of creativity from the rhythmic elements draw a fluid rhythm for the heaviness of its elements. A loop of harmonic elements rolls over the sensual approach of the bass line as the synth knits solos with a saxophone tinge. The rhythm takes a second flight as the synth readjusts its tone to offer beautiful whistling solos like that great whistler from the Cosmos, while the harmonies resurrect some of the flavors of Tangerine Dream. An excellent track! In a structure that rises and falls in a texture adorned with beautiful sound effects, For a Roadmovie is in the vein of the good moments of Fanger & Schönwälder. A humming track in an astral haze, the rubbery effect of the rhythmic chords resonates without altering the effect of the multiple layers and haze of synth. The further I go into CHECK IN, the more I like what I hear. Like the splendid C9 05-05 whose progressive structure, deployed in the rhythmic axes of BKS, ends up making us hear a contemporary remake of Klaus Schulze's Moondawn with Harald Grosskopf on drums. The good old days! The layers of fog and violins in the opening of Check Out give it a surreal Arabian cinema tinge. The sound texture is conceived in the artifices of synthesizers and their sound effects whose ample soporific embraces must constantly compete with sound and percussive effects, if not hand percussions. This is typical of the BKS universe which is quite omnipresent in the development of the tracks of this first Kontroll-Raum album. A pulsating sequence emerges a little before the 3rd minute. An oscillating rhythm line seeks the complicity of the rattles that have been introduced. The pulsating effect and the ascending path of the rhythmic line continue to work to structure a minimalist complicity, while a percussive texture sculpts a tremulous trance that a synth adorns of contemplative solos. Mutation on top of mutation, as much in the unfolding of the rhythm, as in the harmonic vision and the elements of ambiences, Check Out draws us into a melodious rhythm, like a ballad we've never heard formed.

Definitely, Kontroll-Raum delivers a solid album that sets the bar high for what's next for Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder. There is a rhythmic dynamic in this album that reminds us of BKS's saturation with their colorful craze. CHECK IN is a great album that reconnects us with the first more daring ones of our friend Mario with Detlev Keller.

Sylvain Lupari (April 23rd, 2021) ****½*

Available at Manikin Bandcamp

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