This is an experimental track; it’s recorded in dual mono. Quite how this works is described at the end of the review. I’d thought about putting all that detail into the review itself but thinking about it the important thing is what it sounds like. Basically there’s no point in being experimental if it doesn’t sound any good.
The good news is that it does sound good, really good. The power of the hard panned sounds is frankly scary. And even though you know there’s no stereo soundscape, your mind can’t help but construct one. But the thing is that you can, or at least I can, move the sounds within that soundscape. It’s really strange, and kinda wonderful.
Musically ‘Kosmische Musik?’is hitting all kinds of No-Wave, post-punk and Kraut-rock. There are hints, if you need to know, of the dirty synth sound of The Normal, the jerk and contortions of James Chance, the glorious rhythm of The Talking Heads. These are there but frankly unimportant because the sounds that assault you are the thing, the frankly irresistible jerky groove is a call to go wild on the dancefloor. The song seems to be about demanding your phone call to your lawyer when you’re under arrest and the prison system in general. But on another level the vocals are part of the music; they’re another layer of jerky rhythm.
Pop Vulture have made something, experimental as it is, that is a complete and utter joy to your ears, It’s compelling and irresistibly groovy.
‘Kosmische Musik?’ was originally written as an ode to the genre of krautrock with it’s simple and repetitive melodies, slow developing, minimalist rhythms and extended instrumental sections along with politically stanced lyrics questioning the prison system. Wanting to use the constraints and sensibilities that krautrock had to offer, they looked for inspiration from bands such as CAN, Neu! and Kraftwerk. What emerged from this was just two simple guitar melodies that cut through the whole of the song, containing just five notes, which defines the cutback, minimalist approach to this song.
After spending some time in London, the band’s guitarist Jacob Tresidder did some work at Press Play Studio’s, owned by Andy Ramsay of Stereolab. During this time, Jacob was heavily inspired by Stereolab’s 2003 album “Margerine Eclipse” which presented itself in a form resembling very early stereo productions with very extreme and hard panning. The dual-mono presentation of the album piqued Pop Vulture’s interest that after a short band discussion it was decided to do a Dual-Mono version of a song.
The idea of Dual-Mono is that you have two mono arrangements of a song that when played together over two speakers come to form a new arrangement of the song collectively. This translates to having everything hard panned to either the left or the right channel aiming to create a pseudo-centre image.
Since the original ‘Kosmische Musik?’ had been recorded with such minimalist textures, an exploration into additional instrumentation and new melodies was devised and explored. The band recruited Sam Heffer, who drums for Leeds based band Dense, as well as Arron Francis, who plays saxophone for Leeds based band Genie Genie, and Adam Wilkin, an incredible Leeds based trombonist, to perform on this alternative and experimental version of the song.
The drumming of Luc Gibbons in the right channel is balanced out with the beats laid down through the left channel from Dense’s Sam Heffer. The synth bass riffs compliment those of Sam Curwen, various saxophone and trombone melodies peer in and out throughout the song.