TTW#56 – Elektro Guzzi – Circling Above
A: Circle One
B1: Circle Two
B2: Acid Bonus
Elektro Guzzi are an Austrian trio: Bernhard Breuer (drums), Bernhard Hammer (guitar) and Jakob Schneidewind (bass). Signed to Berlin’s Macro label, they play and record live – however their sound is not what you might be expecting from such a traditional band line-up…
Macro’s Finn Johannsen writes: “Live performances of electronic music have gone a long way since the seminal decision of a few men from Düsseldorf to leave their Krautrock beginnings behind and to become machines. Since then, the list of successors is epic and technologically refined in the process: from the musicians who on stage incorporated electronics into their post punk aesthetics to today's laptop PAs blurring the lines between performance and DJ set in a club context. Of course the evolution of according concepts also proceeded in reverse, with electronic musicians implementing their sound into traditional band structures, and performing their music as modern interpretations of the latter, combining the sounds of the according analogue and digital equipment.
Taking all this into consideration, Elektro Guzzi from Vienna are none of the above, which is exactly why Macro didn’t hesitate to sign them. Though their sound most certainly suggests that Bernhard Hammer, Jakob Schneidewind and Bernhard Breuer also decided to become machines, they strangely enough don’t use any (it took several confirmations in mails and personal meetings and a rehearsal video to convince that they don't).
As digital as they may sound, they couldn’t be more analogue, producing and performing with the most classic of all setups: bass, guitar, and drums. But however traditional they may look as a band, they certainly do not sound like one. They produce and perform like any modern electronic producer and performer wanting that every element of a track is exactly where it is intended to be. There is no computer backup material they prepared earlier, no loops and things, no overdubs. However hard it is to believe, what you hear is 100% live.”
Elektro Guzzi write: “We recorded “Circling Above” in January this year. After two years of finding material for The Tapeworm, we finally agreed on these three tracks. We were searching for material which fits to the format, concerning sound and structure of the tracks. We had never done something for tape but, as you may know, we love the analogue way of doing music…” Elektro Guzzi, Vienna, 13th April 2013.
The beguiling man-not-machine band, Elektro Guzzi deliver almost unfeasibly linear, precisely metronomic grooves made entirely on live instrumentation. In case you're not au fait, the trio of Bernhard Breuer, Bernhard Hammer, and Jakob Schneidewind have released three perception-defying albums on Berlin's techno-focussed Macro label before this one, honing a style of motorik groove played entirely in real-time without a computer in sight. For this tape they contribute two lengthy, rolling compositions. ‘Circle One' is 28 minutes of strident, swinging dub techno-like flux expertly mixed with filigree spatial awareness. ‘Circle Two' is slower, grumbling techno with rolling, swooping bassline and a fuzzy, deserted blues atmosphere, and the ‘Acid Bonus' kicks up fizzing noise and heads-down, Afro-rhythmelodic 4/4 groove with Martian Millsian vibes. Recommended!
Aquarius Records (US):
One of a whole mess of new releases from UK tape label the Tapeworm (we'll get to the others on the next couple lists), Circling Above is the latest from a longtime aQ faves, Elektro Guzzi, who are in fact a live techno band, as in they're a proper actual band, not a DJ or some studio whiz, a real band with real instruments, drums bass and guitar, who make a super tranced out techno music, without loops or drum machines or computers, it's actually a live group of real humans playing real instruments, and making music that sounds like it would be right at home on Kompakt or Raster-Noton. Beyond the concept, which is amazing, the music is pretty fantastic as well, a mesmerizing mix of woozy cyclical melodies and muted pulsing rhythms, total late night bliss out techno, that sounds digital but is purely analog, apparently even the label didn't believe this stuff was actually being played until they watched a live rehearsal video. No loops, no overdubs, but somehow, it still sounds loopy and dubby, hypnotic and heady, all the sounds wreathed in an organic crackle, the sound raw and organic, but somehow sculpted into something that sounds impossible electronic. We love these guys, and these three tracks are just more of what we love. Everyone who Elektro Guzzi's Live P.A. record, are gonna want this too. And if you've yet to hear these guys, check it out, you won't be sorry. And like all Tapeworm tapes, extremely limited!
The Wire (UK):
Let’s start with a spoiler alert, because the best way to approach Elektro Guzzi’s Circling Above is in a state of ignorance. When you’re deep into its electronic, trippy-trance grip, a dancefloor haze of Ricardo Villalobos-esque Minimal Techno, that’s the moment to learn that it’s all played live by an Austrian guitar/drums/bass trio. As you pick your jaw up off the floor, you can ponder the discipline and determination of Bernhard Hammer, Bernhard Breuer and Jakob Schneidewind, and the immaculate production that encases their metronomic grooves. It’s not just that they’ve turned into machines, à la Jaki Liebezeit, because with Liebezeit you can still enjoy the playing, the in-the-pocket-ness of the performance. Elektro Guzzi have gone further: they no longer sound like three musicians but one laptop. Is this a good thing? I’m too stunned to decide.
Vital Weekly (NL):
Something completely different is the music by Austrian trio Elektro Guzzi. I reviewed a CD from them before, in Vital Weekly 774, and I saw them play live at some outdoor festival, maybe last year or the year before. Here we have a trio of Bernhard Hammer on guitar, Jakob Schneidewind on bass and Bernhard Breuer on drums and they play techno music. Yes, that’s right. The metronomic beat of drums and bass play exactly like the bass, kick and snare would do on a drum computer and the bass and guitar are fed through strings of sound effects to create the melodies/sounds/effects. Elektro Guzzi owes also to the world of dub music, as the delay machines work over time every now and then. Very cool minimal techno is the result and it would be at home in the world of Kompakt. All of this was recorded live which means it's not entirely flawless but I think that's the beauty of it. Sound like a laptop with glitches: what more do you want as a band?