Inspired by a longstanding respect for the pioneering sounds of Cluster, Neu!, Harmonia & John Foxx, the legendary K. Leimer fuses tape loops, Moog tones and a variety of real and imagined instruments into his album ‘Mitteltöner,’ an immersive journey brimming with electronic emotion.
A key figure in America’s musical avant garde, Leimer’s experiments with tape manipulation, fractal loops and textured ambience have been well documented in recent times, with RVNG and VOD both offering excellent and exhaustive retrospectives of the artist’s seventies and eighties output. Tracing Leimer’s discography from 1979’s ‘Translucent: / Memory’ to 1983’s ‘Installation View’, via the dislocated rhythms of the Savant project, these archival releases detail a move from the pastoral synthesis of kosmische into more angular, experimental territories. Simultaneously looking to the past and the future, this Origin Peoples release is both a return to Leimer's earliest stylistic explorations, and his first vinyl release of original work in twenty five years.
Oddly for such a sonic outlier, ‘Mitteltöner’ (midrange to non teutophones) takes its conceptual cues from the idea that the midrange contains all the core information. Over ten tracks, Leimer employs subtlety and skill to navigate the emotional depth of the kosmische genre while maintaining the focus and detail which has remained constant in his work.
Opener ‘Dunne Luft’ owes as much to post rock as krautrock, evolving from chiming harmonics and understated rhythms into an optimistic roar of motorik percussion and towering guitars. From there, ‘Werbemelodie’ dives into crystalline calm, tracing delicate arps around a processed groove before ‘Anode’ sends us skywards, drifting through glistening piano refrains and hypnotic sequences. The dramatic ‘As Long Ago As This’ glides through a deserted city of metal and glass leaving the measured ambience of ‘Entferntemusik ’ to close out the side in a swell of static.
Leimer shifts tone as we move onto the flip, segueing the stomping, cybernetic Sturm Und Drang of ‘German Defaults’ into the propulsive electronics of ‘London Interiors’, a dynamic sample-topped suite in the tradition of Bill Nelson. The addition of graceful piano motifs and swathes of hazy synthesis lends a tranquillity to the pulsating bass of ‘Auf Einem Fahrrad’, while ‘SHM’ marries soothing melody and crunching rhythm into a thoroughly medicated experience. Finally, ‘Café Florian’ pays homage to Kraftwerk's Schneider and Popol Vuh's Fricke with a euphoric fusion of metallic percussion and esoteric energies.
Far from a simple homage to the electronic idols of his youth, ‘Mitteltöner’ finds K. Leimer reimagining their nuanced sonic framework through a lifetime of musical experience and experimentation.
Published: 8th December 2017