They arrive together with a gray summer flood, in a single package delivered by a drenched and muggering postman, Recloser and Switchgear, second and third installments of the Star Robot System trilogy, started with the remarkable Mechanized in 2017.
The author dusts off old recordings, completing the musical recovery of an archival material that really deserves to come to light. As can be expected from this type of operation, there are the uncertainties typical of the first experiments and the inevitable references to the electronic tradition (I would say slightly more berlin-school Recloser, but slightly more schnitzler-Klosterish Switchgear, which however has me also recalled the gray industrial sounds of Sheffield, the first Human League on all).
That said, the two albums are heard and present a considerable amount of interesting ideas and deserving of careful listening and repeated, made even more delicious by an analog sound, proud of its rustles, crunches and various imperfections.
After repeated listening, I am convinced by the timbre research, the remarkable originality in the construction of rhythms, the almost always moderate use, the content of the melodic lines.
Of the two albums, Recloser appears more homogeneous and compact. The sound is that of the previous Mechanized, pervaded by a twilight and remote atmosphere, which here is made sound in the dark initial bead of Emission Nocturne de la Kilovolt Ampere.
Emerging from the vibrations of the drone, a vocoder announces the appearance of magmatic synthetic oscillations, similar to plays of light on the ripples of water. In the concluding half of the piece, a powerful flow of liquid percussion, difficult to refer to pre-existing models, captures the attention hypnotically. One of the best pieces of the entire trilogy. The following suite Nikola Tesla Sequence will make the joy of lovers of vintage electronic chirps so dear to the masters, German and not.
Whistling and gurgoglii analogous to full hands, electric crackles and whistles of the tape perfectly amalgamated, the song accompanies us in the exploration of wrecks of disused power plants, the most evocative subject of the dreamy explorations of SRS / Robomaks, subject charged with symbolic meanings and archetypal Jung would have liked to explore. The harmonic component is influenced by the obvious influence of the first Schulze, that of the interminable, monolithic drones, seasoned with electronic effects. Here, however, Robomaks inserts a skewed rhythmic base, irregular but effective, and an intense melodic line that gradually levers towards epic tones à la Vangelis, approaching the style of many epigones of the 80s and 90s, more attentive to the search for the “beautiful melody that to the exploration of sound.
Serenade for the Diodes recovers a hypnotic trend, the oscillations lull me to every listening and even more the omnipresent breath of the tapes, anything but disturbing, it seems only the slow breathing of the machines. To close the album, another remarkable interior soundscape, that The Sunset of the Old Rusty Power Station that smells of the vapors of the now ancient Nightdust of Göttsching, the most remote and twilight point of the album, a look thrown into the more alien depths, where arcs of light, explosions and cosmic glows radiate glacial, indifferent to the existence of living witnesses.
Switchgear is the most heterogeneous CD, perhaps even fragmentary. The opening, the Conducteurs et Machines suite seems to start from a recognition on the themes and sounds of Recloser, enriched by a sepulchral melodic line and very seventies effects, but soon it changes register: they break from the sound diffusers far more bizarre, again in perfect schnitzlerian style: sound structures with a high rate of neurosis … algide, ironic and corrosive at the same time.
The rhythms? More a delicious, rubbery propulsion of vague late-clustered kinship than a real rhythm section.
Transmission d’Energie, The Transformer Cabin and La Nuite de l’Arc Voltaique belong to this cutting-edge version of Star Robot System, pieces that would not look like juxtaposed to the exterminated Schnitzlerian production of the 80s.
Again, in my opinion the rhythmic component works great, often resulting in the most innovative and original element of the compositions.
The solemn cosmic melody and the irreverent machinisme sly blend into Sectionalizers in a perfect synthesis. The piece stands out for its expressive effectiveness and sound cleanliness (which suggests that it was recorded more recently or with different instruments). In the end, he arrives to displace the listener with a piece even more autonomous by conception and sonority, that Das Herz der Denkmaschine which does not help a rhythm and a melody rather out of context and some executive uncertainty in the progression of the agreements. Perhaps a filler, which in any case does not affect the overall look of a work, the trilogy as a whole, which enters into law among the most interesting, genuine and stimulating listenings of recent years.
Piero A. Manocchio