Kammerflimmer Kollektief – Maander

I’ve been avoiding reviewing Maander for a while now because I don’t have the background for this kind of release. It’s something I don’t hear a lot of, and that means making comparisons or even satisfactory descriptions are bound to be difficult. But I’ll give it my best and tell you that Kammerflimmer Kollektief (kammerflimmer being a disease of the heart, and kollektief meaning collective – or together meaning The Shimmering Collective) is a German project, formed around lead Thomas Weber, that creates complex, experimental instrumentals.
Drawing from two 12″ EPs that are long out of print as well as several new tracks, Maander sounds like an experimental DJ who is trying to perform jazz music on his normal equipment. But, oddly, much of this album is done using traditional equipment, including live drums, stand-up bass, strings, guitars, and tons of tape noise and synths. But while you might expect something loud or chaotic, the songs have a kind of steady, almost jazzy, avant-garde flow to them. As difficult as that is to imagine, it’s even more difficult to describe, and it’s occasionally difficult to listen to.
“Mond?” starts the album basically little more than a beat, some tape noise, and very faintly heard bass and synths, far in the background. We get a more up-tempo beat mixed with upright bass and samples on “Implodiert” that do dissolve into white noise and chaotic sounds by the song end. Things get a bit nicer, as “Tuch” has an actual melody, still slightly obscured behind percussion, and the guitars come in on “Faller” but get lost behind a wall of distortion and white noise. By contrast, “Gras” is quieter, more focused around soft strings and bass beneath a light, jazzy beat, making it much more digestible. The lengthy “Konstant” is an exercise in repetition, primarily of percussion, while varying synths wash in and out of the mix, and “Lunger” takes a similarly repetitive approach, only this time with more tribal-sounding beats and odd noises, subtle and restrained.
Again, Weber changes direction. “Seen” is almost ambient, quiet and electronic and slightly sterile feeling, while “Nachtwach” is one of the more interesting tracks here: sporadic bursts of noise and distortion riding over a calm, almost throbbing beat and bass lines. “Horn” has a pretty cool, light, up-tempo jazzy beat to it, and “Brack” ends with some assorted noise and silence, definitely anti-climatic.
This is one of the most difficult releases I had the pleasure to be exposed to. I say pleasure, because Maander is a very interesting release with some moments of true originality. My problem is that these pieces are long and repetitive, all focused around percussion, which gets old and slightly difficult to take in a 70+ minute sitting. Still, Weber has dome some great things here, quite possibly to prove very influential, and it’s worth a listen, especially for those of you with an open mind who appreciate the more experimental side of music.