Cyclopean – self-titled EP

Cyclopean - self-titled EP

Cyclopean – self-titled EP

Reverence for the Krautrock idioms of yore has arguably never been bigger or so widely expressed than it is now.  With even the likes of Paul Weller developing a motorik affectation and the fervour surrounding last year’s boxset of previously unheard Can material, the importance of the genre’s sonic trappings appears to be forever expanding.  But what of the original progenitors themselves from this German-birthed musical movement – where do they fit into the never-ending story now?  Whilst a handful of the key players have sadly passed-away – such as Can guitarist Michael Karoli and Neu! drummer Klaus Dinger – many have remained creatively occupied, albeit overlooked, through multiple routes since their ‘70s-to-‘80s heydays.  Hence, in recent times, Cluster’s septuagenarian synth pioneer Hans-Joachim Roedelius has been trading respectably as Qluster as well as under his own name; Faust members have split the group into two alternate incarnations; onetime Neu! and Harmonia multi-instrumentalist Michael Rother has toured and recorded with contemporaries and disciples alike; and Kraftwerk percussionist Karl Bartos is soon set to release an out-of-the-blue new solo album.  Whilst times, trends and innovations may have overtaken these still active Germanic musical legends, at least now they have a wider audience willing to embrace them as more than just museum pieces.

Possibly the most enticing news regarding such scattered veterans comes with the formation of Cyclopean; which features a new alliance between erstwhile Can members Irmin Schimdt and Jaki Liebezeit with relative youngsters Jono Podmore and the brilliantly named Burnt Friedman.  Whilst all have previously collaborated in separate configurations – most notably with Podmore and Schimdt painstakingly editing Can’s archives into digestible shape for 2012’s The Lost Tapes collection – this is the first time all four have worked under one umbrella.  Even though this eponymous four-track 12” debut EP is no radical revelation – nor does it ultimately profess to be – there is enough that is satisfyingly fresh and skilfully executed about it all to suggest that the combination of these old and younger hands is a decidedly promising four-way marriage.

The most instantly joyous thing of all, is hearing Liebezeit’s sublime drumming swimming through the distinctly aqueous textures supplied by Schimdt, Friedman and Podmore.  In fact, without Liebezeit’s dextrous rhythms these four flowing-together instrumental pieces might not hold such amenable warmth.  Thus, the opening “Apostles” melds tropical beats to jittery plucking and watery ambience in the same appealing style that Keiron Hebden sadly ran away from after Four Tet’s remarkable Rounds.  Even better is the sprawling and spooky “Fingers,” wherein acoustic layers, elemental drones and burbling electronics blend into a steady percussive bed with an enthralling cinematic sense of mystery and magnetism.  The ensuing “Knuckles” brings in rubbery Tortoise-like bass lines to conjoin with the drums whilst eerie synths and classical-shaded piano figures float into the mix.  With the closing “Weeks,” crucial elements from all of the preceding three tracks are subtly converged to make for an evocative finale, which trails off into a nocturnal subterranean soundscape, like an empty U-Bahn train disappearing inside a lost tunnel.

Overall, perhaps the true beauty of this self-titled extended-player is that it leaves you both sated and wanting more.  As low-key new beginnings go, this has bright prospects regardless of the age of its participants.

Mute/Spoon