MYTHOS: Grand Prix (1981/2013)
“Still breathing of his Krautrock influences, this Grand Prix from Mythos follows the creative synth-pop tangents of Quasar”
1 Grand Prix 4:16
2 Transamazonica 3:51
3 Transatlantik Non-Stop 3:30
4 Video 5:15
5 Jet Set 5:20
6 Bermuda Dreieck 4:00
7 Robot Secret Agents 3:00
8 Mayday 3:51
9 Rockwärts (Bonus Track) 6:20
10 Mellotron Mystique (Bonus Track) 4:53
(CD 43:52) (V.F.)
(Creative synth-pop à la Düsseldorf School)
If Quasar was the album of transition between Krautrock and synth-pop for Mythos, GRAND PRIX is the album which completes its metamorphosis. Except for lines of flute which sing here and there, this 2nd solo album from Stephan Kaske sits down on structures and equipments strictly electronic. For the fans of Krautrock, it was of the high treason, from where the very acerbic critics, but for EM fans, in particular the Düsseldorf, GRAND PRIX added a very progressive touch, even if it presents 8 short tracks, to a synth-pop with fragrances strongly filled of the robotics approaches of the cyborgs from Düsseldorf.
After the noises of use which surround the F1 circus, the title-track spits its jumping keys which skip feverishly on the spot to forge a hyperactive rhythm that some fragments of crystalline harmonies separate from being a wild stubbornness rhythmic. The voices, as well as the melodious approach, which surround Grand Prix plunges us into the influences that Kraftwerk had on the first techno generation with Trans Europe Express. It's catchy and melodious while having a very robot-style cachet, as in Video, and its rhythm disrupted by furtive keys which carry at the tip of their rhythmic pattern a melody weaved in prisms of ice, as well as the very laconic and cybernetic Bermuda Dreieck. The rhythmic envelope of GRAND PRIX is mainly centred on slow tempos, to the limit ambient. We roll of the hips and we hop much more than we bang of the head with frenzy. It's some nice synth-pop with rhythmic outlines which bounce in the sweet anarchy of neighboring sequences. The percussions are sober with very mathematical strikings. They complete more the rhythm than they control them while the pulsating sequences draw rhythmic patterns inside which other lines of sequences depict tangents more harmonious, creating rhythms more morphic that of dances. Moreover, the big strength of GRAND PRIX is its harmonious approaches which are completely inspired by these melodious sequences with tones of ice, a bit à la Kraftwerk. Ice prisms which swirl and twitter as in Transamazonica, a track which offers a structure of austere rhythm of which the melody forged between lines of synths and flutes cavorts on a sober bed of sequences and electronic percussions. Transatlantik Non-Stop is a musical jewel and a wonderful adaptation of a medieval dance into an electronic mode. We hook right on the first listening. Jet Set offers a fuzzy rhythm. Between the sweetness and its knocks of jerked percussions, knocking with the precision of sequences, the rhythm tries a melodic approach which sings like the melody of ice of Transamazonica. Secret Robot Agents is a short one which presents an ambient rhythm, quite as Mayday and its drum rolls which smother into these dense synth pads. This is good synth-pop, slightly a bit more creative and progressive, except for Secret Robot Agents, where the singings of Kaske and his fluty breezes are mixed with the vocoder and synth Mellotron pads. One would believe to hear Jethro Tull on Bauhaus. This second life, very well done by the way, of GRAND PRIX presents two bonus tracks which will delight the fans of this transition period of Mythos. Lugubrious and heavy, Rockwärts is pounding of an organic life with its metallic elytrons which clink on a funeral approach filled with gurglings and vampiric voices which pepper an ambience full of iconoclastic tones. Mellotron Mystique is a fine ode to ambient Mellotron that will feed the phases of relaxation that Stephan Kaske will investigate some 15 years farther.
In this era where the icons of music do up their ancestral works to give them a second life and, especially, to fulfill the new followers who were not able to get themselves these works vanished in the labyrinths of time, there is no evil in the fact that Mythos resuscitates the album of its controversy. Especially that it's a nice album, well done, which depicts the incredible progression of Stephan Kaske of which the career takes of a second breath since the very good Surround Sound Offensive. In fact, I have never understood why GRAND PRIX received such a volley of blows at its while it completes marvellously the suite of Quasar. For me, both albums are inescapable in Mythos' career who is an artist of the most underestimated of the Krautrock electronic scene. For the year (1981), this album hides some jewels which join the futuristic phases of Blade Runner (think of the small cybernetic foot soldier in the apartment of J.F. Sebastian) where the asepticized rhythms don't have to redden of the harmonic envelopes that they bear with the robotics candour of the first techno phases from the years of an evolutionary synth-pop.
Sylvain Lupari (July 23rd, 2013) ***½**
Available at Sireena Records