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Weit Draussen (Walter Ulbricht Schallfolien) LP

 This is the first new full-length in over six years by the mysterious Werkbund, who were one of the leading lights of German industrial and experimental music in the late eighties and early nineties. Werkbund are so mysterious that I’m not even sure whether to refer to them/him/her as singular or plural, so I shall play it safe and soldier on in the plural. Weit Draussen, which is slang that translates roughly as “Out There,” finds Werkbund exploring familiarly dark musical territory. The record opens with a gently repeating, asymmetrical pattern of organ tones, which, after a time descend abruptly into near chaos, as sounds cascade like a waterfall before settling down and allowing the initial pulses to return. In the pieces that follow, Werkbund draws you deep into such alien environments and noisy, shimmering spaces. The final track, “Grau das Meer, schwarz die Inseln,” (Green is the Sea, Black is the Island) which fills the album’s second side is a particularly evocative and engrossing soundscape. The piece emerges at a snail’s pace out of near silence, as Werkbund carves out a echoing, cavernous space, populated and punctuated by murmuring voices and burbling water, and whose near calm is periodically all but swept away by rumbling, tidal surges of sound. In the past, the peculiar metallic liquidity of Werkbund’s electronics has led to much speculation that Asmus Tietchens must somehow be involved (click here to read Tietchens’ unequivocal denial), but, ultimately, their starkly epic soundscapes are rather different from much of Tietchens’ varied work. In any case, Weit Draussen lives up to its name and is truly far out in the best sense of the term.


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