subota, 22. lipnja 2013.

GeRmAn ArMy - Holland Village

Kasetne bombe za haremsku bolest u zlatnom dobu abasidske kulture metalnih insekata.


German Army are one of 20JFG’s favourite bands in the world. Their releases describe mutant strains of a virus originally engineered in the laboratories of the COUM conspiracy, and released into the world as a sonic code for the mass metamorphosis of people into drones, the painful integration of flesh with metal and plastic, an account of the first stages in the evolution of a hegemonic species of insect.In Holland Village, the insinuations of beats in previous releases become a reality, the rumble of the viral machinery pumping copies of itself and massing them up in the cellular borders of invaded territories. If these armies had camps, and in their camps they burned fires, and around their fires they sang songs and danced dances, Abbasid Golden Age would be heard loud and terrible, the microscopic fractal of the Human League’s Being Boiled & other Electronic Body (emphasis on Body) anthems, a battle hymn for armies with that have no mouths, yet do scream. -
I've reviewed German Army's music before. This is the third time. Three different labels (I recommend that ya look into Dub Ditch Picnic by the way), three fairly different albums. Holland Village is a strange sound world and it draws the listener in slowly. At times dub, electronic, soft-industrial, psychedelic-noir...sorta everything ambient/soundtracky all rolled into one tape. I like it. I can't be sure if this is the group's best concentrated effort because I haven't heard everything they've done, but this is my personal fave. Weird and wonderful stuff...Check out "Sultan Skin" for how deliberately the music successfully simmers. -
Editor’s NoteDecoder reviews will not typically tackle multiple releases without a compelling reason to conceptualize them together. German Army is an unusual project that many writers may recognize from moments where they’ve resolved in spite of enjoying the music, that coming to grips with the project’s full output and meaning is probably impossible on their schedule. So, German Army is not written of often in spite of its numerous releases and their consistent quality. Toward rectifying that, reviewer Phil Diamond tackles both German Army releases sent to him as a demo this year, emphasizing what can and so far cannot be known about the band/artist.
I don’t know much about German Army but I seem to see the name often enough. I know they have a good bunch of records out. I know they’re involved in Merx, which is a really great gothy kinda band from LA. I’m pretty sure they run Kill Shaman Records. I don’t know if it’s one guy or a handful. I know, albeit trivially, that at least the guy I’ve (barely) talked to uses a pseudonym when he’s at his “real” job, or maybe when he runs the label… I know this because another super secretive dude who released some stuff on Kill Shaman told me. I know that the name German Army is pretty difficult to look up on the internet. I know you can’t just type the name with “” and come up with anything. So here we have point one on German Army: it’s a mysterious act (of one kind or another).
German Army sent me two tapes. The one I just finished listening to is called Burushaski and is available on Swedish label Beläten; the other is called Holland Village and is on the label Dub Ditch Picnic. Both releases are quality; Burushaski seems to lean more towards the danceable and surreal, while Holland Village is more of a flyover of jungles and hidden beaches. Holland Village is imaginative and soundscape-y and more willing to drop it. I think I prefer Holland Villagebut both cassettes provide worthwhile listens with some headphones and a little time alone.
German Army’s sounds are pretty particular to German Army. There are elements of dub, though they’re happy enough to replace parts that might otherwise be tiny hi-hat tch sounds with blasts of noise. The albums build in ways that seem to flow but often surprise in a way this is both unusual (even for “surprises”) and welcomed; a track will emerge midway through the album that actually follows a recognisable structure and, although you wouldn’t expect it, fits into the album as comfortably as everything else does. Or a Hawaiian steel guitar sample will appear and set a stereotypical “happy” mood before dissolving in acid wash. From that dissolution another sound emerges and transports you to a new landscape, maybe still Hawaiian but more like watching a coastal storm from a bamboo shack and the fat man in the camping hat falls off the dock.
A weird extra point here, because I’m totally just figuring this out as I’m writing it and listening; I wrote a review of a Merx album (sharing members with German Army) and went straight into this sort of dark side of the tropics vibe with it, and I’m now listening to Holland Village and doing the same thing. I can only surmise that this is something the mysterious man behind German Army is doing to me, because I have no past experience with tropical anything and I haven’t watched more than, like, one episode of Hawaii Five-0 in my life. The way this guy seems to hit me is through industrializing stormy islands and shooting drones through native campsites in the Amazon. The music plays out like a tapestry that changes colors in different lights and totally succeeds at transporting me across the world.
Another word that keeps popping in my head while listening to German Army is mastery. Every sound here has been thoroughly thought through, every sample put through the wringer, and every element that emerges will melt away with the kind of taste that makes me wonder how it was done. It’s very sweet. -  

Cattle Border (2012)

GeRmAn ArMy
Cattle Border [CS; Clan Destine]

Here the-fuck we go! Every GeRmAn ArMy onslaught carries with it a certain charm, but “Cattle Border” tips the scales in its favor with a wicked-slow stew of low hums, echo-speak, drum-bot, and a system of composition that works well with the bleak atmosphere, plodding beats, and churning effects. A chaotic soundscape is achieved with just a few key elements tiptoeing up your spine like evil intuition, the occasional voiceover lending a, might I say, measure of civility to the proceedings (not much yelling or screaming here). If this were a record, you’d be speeding it up to 45 in a vain attempt to make sense of it; as it stands, you’ll think your tape player is eating this puppy alive. Coldwave is cold, but this stuff is so frigid you could crack its ruminations with a few taps of a ball-pen hammer. And since when could frost feel this creepy? This is Mattress and Mike Sniper under a million miles of prehistoric ice. Du hast mich, GeRmAn ArMy.
Apparently these guys have put out previous releases on the likes of Night PeopleKill Shaman and Skrot Up but I’ve not encountered them before and this tape really doesn’t help explain much except that they’re a duo with the initials CG and MM and they make weird chopped up repetitive murky post-punk techno pulse’n’drift that’s bleak and relentless, with lots of cut’n’paste samples and slowed down tape loops, grainy textures, echo on everything, it’s like wading through a lake of the bitter treacle that’s left in your weed pipe after it’s gone too many months without a good scrub.
The flip opens with a slow, droning, dubbed out number with some clearer vocals but it’s still got the same bonged out tweak vibes, then there’s some slinky celestial dungeon grooves and distant fairground tinkling for some more dread-laden choppy dub-pulse mischief, and then another particularly moody vocal-led bit of sewer murk to close. The indecipherable and mysterious DIY aesthetics at play are reminding me a bit of the weird Cop Car Music tape we got in not too long ago but this has a darker, more ominous undertone to its hypnotic bleakscapes. Murky, spooked out and mysterious stuff. - Norman Records

I am down with this German Army band. Still don't know anything about these guys other than they're from Southern California (I think) and that their music is awesome.
In a previous review I noted their similarity to Excepter on their Night People tape Papua Mass (one of my early favs of the year) while making the claim that these guys are doing it a little better than Excepter did/do. Well, the frontlines of the German Army continue to advance sounding a little like their last tape while also delving into the worlds of plunderphonics and hip-hop.
Cattle Border, a 5 song, double-A-side affair, kicks off with a banger. "Translate Person" sounds like a dub track slowed down so much that it becomes a nightmarish throb. A bass stomp and rim shot, both steeped in delay, trade hits giving their loping 1-2 rhythm some serious thump. Elsewhere, the vocalist feeds off the lethargy and the Army weave bits of ephemeral, practically evaporated keyboard flutters throughout the joint.
The next track, "Thorax Journalism" rolls on what's nearly a boom-bap loop, samples a really catchy "It's a Small World After All"-esque track that they must have jacked from the local Merry-Go-Round, then gets into some legit MF Doom-style "interlude" material. Nice!! Sick beats, a couple minor-chord strikes to cast an eerie glow, scatterbrained speech samples: I'm sold! "North Small Map" is a jam. It doubles the tempo of the previous tracks so much so one could almost describe it as pumpin'. There's some more sloshed samples, but the track's focus is more on the processed bits of percussion, keyboard webs and grooving drum machine.
The vocalist returns from his break backstage for "Bored Heart Strings." The track is the closest to an actual dub track on the tape but it still ain't all that close. German Army lets everything run a bit more loose here. The vocalist is even more unintelligible than usual. The drum loop grooves reliably but its overrun with lots of samples, keyboard parts and other echoing muck. The brief "Albanian Self-Portrait" closes up shop. Beginning with a slowed-down vocal sample that's rhythmic enough to practically work as a drum track. Then they introduce a sweet hip-hop sample (which I suspect may be the super slow one played at normal speed) and proceed to fuck around with it before pressing "stop."
The Night People tape is still my favorite from these guys but there's some really cool stuff on this one and the appear to be exploring new avenues while maintaining the same identity which is great to hear. Plus, it's always exciting to see some hip-hop collage stuff happening in the cassette underground. UK label Clan Destine dropped this so this is a perfect chance for those across the pond to get acquainted with the sounds of the German Army. If you can handle the grotesque artwork, that is. Hit up Clan Destine for copies.

German Army
Papua Mass [CS; Night People]

What seems a bare cupboard for the one band you just can’t Google turns out to be an old coldwave trick: Lull the listener to sleep with hypnotizing weird-wave minimal synth and wait… and wait… and wait. Then what? Well, I guess you make another tape. Until then, German Army have me in the palm of their hairy hands, their Martian Church XX-style sludge-vocals reminding me of that time I’s probed by aliens. (I swear! Ma told me if’n I lie I’ll be in hot water, so don’t tell on me!) Their frothy chemical brew is a strange, pungent one that no one should try at home: Stack a uncooperative drum machine on top of a shit-house synth, echo-killed vox, and maybe a bass line and see how much your version of this sucks. How do they do it? This is one of those tapes you listen to mouth-ajar; the 39 Clocks of mini-synth-wave, German Army are. The end of Side A even mimics a tape being eaten. You’ll keep checking and checking. What an idiot! Bruce Hart is watching approvingly from heaven (What? He’s alive? Man…), not to mention Wet Hair. Those nice Raccoo-oo-oon boys sure have comported themselves well with this Night People label, a veritable shit-storm of fascinating vibrations emanating from their every audio orifice. It’s sick. And yes, like every actually-good cassette I review, it’s probably fucking sold out before you even knew what hit you circa Dave Mustaine. Sorry; you lose.

Sedentary (2010)

Cryptic LA duo GERMAN ARMY have established themselves with a series of lo-fi outings that seperate them from the pack. Their songs evolve slowly with a grim yet poppy approach. Surf music gone dub, goth music gone noise... with a tinge of no-wave and psychedelic smoothness. Ideal for a deep and hazy nocturnal listen. Get sedated.  -


    Body Linguist (2011) streaming

    Distorted synths and extra sensory drum machine patterns mutate into slow motion waves of creepy new age, and a sense of being submerged in a strange liquid and looking at the world from behind glass pervades German Army’s music. With nine tracks in only fifteen minutes Body Linguist plays like a hardcore record, but with the rage muted into a minimal and claustrophobic burst of lava lamp-like intensity.

    This double A-side from L.A. minimalist duo - German Army, is yet another deep notch in Skrot Up's bedpost.With just nine tracks clocking in at just under fifteen minutes, Body Linguist plays out like an old punk record, but with delicate synth chords traded in for power chords, and scattered machine-drumming instead of straight forward pummeling.It's fairly moody and blatantly minimal, almost to a fault.I'm a big fan of most anything dark and desolate, especially with a vague cold war aesthetic, and these dudes pull it off handsomely on all fronts.The songs are short and sour, and might be completely improvised, but it's hard to say.It kind of reminds me of Portion Control or recent Factums, with less focus on the vocals.Bits and pieces of random dub instrumentals, snagged, stripped down to their skeletons, and spat out at half speed.
    Parts of Body Linguist tend to dip into Throbbing Gristle's more subtle and tender moments, with a bit of skittering electronics and noisy interludes, but for the most part this tape keeps it's cool.This is definitely an album made for a cassette release, as their songs aren't really something to be played individually.As a whole, Body Linguist is a consistent and rewarding listen, and should be played front to back.Headphones are suggested.Check out their recent cassette on Night-People, too.
    Get Body Linguist here.

    I'm not sure who this German Army is that keeps sending me tapes (well apparently it's two people named Chin Genie and Meatball Maker,) but I hope they don't stop. I wasn't even sure Germany was allowed to have an army yet after that whole World War II debacle.
    First, they sent Body Linguist on the Danish Skrot Up label.Then they followed up withPapua Mass on the renowned Night People label. I like the first tape but I LOVE the second. I'll say it right now; these guys sound a ton like Excepter but, if you ask me, I think they're probably better. That's no insult to Excepter, just my feelings bro. Anyway, onto Papua Mass...
    "Guinea Strong Arm" sets the tone. Hypnotic two-tone xylo-synth loop, dark organ melody, an ominous cascade of guitar swells and sloshed vox uttered through four or five pedals. The recipe is simple and seriously fuckin' potent. "Calypso Host" is a mess of echoing and/or reversed drum machine emanations. It grooves like a cripple, I don't know how it stays on its feet. Queasy synths roll in over the stomache-churning bass line as the singer dude drools out "I can't see the future." Perhaps not, but you're definitely onto something. This track reminds me of some of the stuff on Liquid Swords and that right there should send yr ass on a quest for this cassette right away. The cave-like "Nonsecular Wall" is consumed in a dank mist of reverb making it the most smeared track on the side, like hearing a drum circle down the longest hallway in the world. In classic iconoclast fashion, the side ends with an annoying stuttering that goes on for far, far too long.
    The second side features "Tan Lines" a total Forbidden Planet-goes-dub jam. Primitive synths boop and streak over an echo-chamber snare. "Folded Skin" gets the most minimal of all with a pair of barely-there keyboards, until a flanged march fades in. A two-note bass line starts up adding a pulse to the strangely sparse arrangement. The vocals get the full chop/stop/screw/repeat treatment against an elegant, slowly building bed of synth-tones/samples. The closer, "Roman Lover" sounds like a slo-mo club track. An insectoid synth-loop burrows its way into yr brain underneath the spoken word story of disease. One of the real strengths of this tape is the way German Army never overdoes anything; they understand when they only need 2 or 3 elements to get their point across and when to expand the palette for effect, as in the final minutes of "Roman Lover."
    All in all, this shit is really good. It sounds like some other stuff I've heard but I'm not sure if I've heard it done this well. German Army finds the delicate balance between junk-dub abstraction and actuallistenability. To the German Military-Industrial Complex, keep pumpin' these motherfuckers out. I need more.
    Gleefully demented, Body Linguist sounds like a predecessor to the more "refined" Papua Mass. Kicking off with the loopy "Earwigs" the first of 9 tracks to fill a 15 minute side, German Army makes no secret about the fragmentary of nature of the tape. "Horn Head" seems to peter out right when it hits it's stride. Same for a highlight, "Great Basin." The glowing embers of the keyboard melody in "Slave Worship" seems to promise a full-on move into "song" territory but instead it yields to the chilly keyboards and bent synth squeaks of "Ottoman Nurse." "Sick Standard" is rather raucous with a fuzzy synth riff and a menagerie of electronic pops and splashes. "Natural Space Skin" mashes some square pegs into round holes and "Throat Bender" chooses to fill the sound spectrum with sustained keyboard tones and heavily effected drum machine. The final track, "Peeling the Foot," is probably the longest and benefits from the length. It's given a bit of time to unfurl itself even if the ground underneath its feet is constantly shifting. The vocalist trails off and the side is over. The program repeats on the next side.
    Body Linguist begs for an extended cut or for Germany Army to "remix" it or something. There's tons of great material throughout the tape, and while I respect the fragmentary nature, I can't deny it always leaves me wanting more of it and more from it. Maybe this was a trial run of sorts before moving into the longer songs of Papua Mass but as I said, there's lots material here worth developing or refashioning in future endeavors.
    Definitely check this band out, Papua Mass is the first must-hear of the year from my perspective.

    German Army (2013) streaming

    Self Interview

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