Well this has the label tag number 55 on it so that seems to be the number of releases we have reached from Austrian cosmonauts Der B as I shall abbreviate their name to for sanity’s sake. Although I have only been lucky enough to start my journey with them a much shorter time ago their albums and quirky themes and artwork are always welcome and this latest one comes with some trippy illustrative architectural photography on the front and interesting green on black lettering inside. It helpfully tells me that for maximum listening pleasure it should only be played when chemically imbalanced. Luckily that’s no problem for this particular writer as it is the normal modus operandi and state I dwell in so hopefully we are indeed on the same wavelength.
For those new to the Der B experience be prepared for a trippy ride and an embedded realm of psychedelia built around a rumbling base that harks back to the golden age of Krautrock. Key components taking us on this ride are naturally musician and workhorse Albin Julius and vocal muse Marthynna. Last time we heard from them was with one of many collaborative efforts, this time with White Hills and their Desire album. This time around we get 9 tracks running around the 40 minute mark. Time to buckle up and launch ourselves into the black yawning void of space.
Strange abstract electronic boinging sounds with a sort of Western etched vista take us into ‘Evil’ and its almost straight away that Marthynna’s unmistakable voice joins in warbling harmonically away as a fug of incense and clouds of pungent smoke hypnotically accompany the experience for those doing things the right way. Chanting and plodding in a mesmerising way it all exudes a weird out there listening platform before droning off into the ether and the grammatical nihilism of the title track begins to ponderously ebb out the speakers. This lot have proven that collaborations work well for them but they are not necessarily needed as they jam naturally away on their own building their own dream-laden musical castles in the sky. Spoken lyrical pieces kind of console and calm things down a little and I’m more than happy to drift along with things and absorb the thick lucid bass work and what sounds like a motor building up and coasting along on the stratosphere. Actually I kinda almost wish I was there but at end of this one it sounds like the engine is spluttering and we could well be in for an unexpected crash landing back on earth. Sirens are ringing, guitars are jangling and ‘All One’ is the bumpy ride. Melody is timeless and harks back through the decades sounding natural and almost but not quite recognisable. Indeed ‘Make Me See The Light’ almost cheekily gives a bit of musical shelter invoking memories of them Rolling Bones before they were quite so craggy and aged. No doubt whatever age you are you’ll find yourself quickly humming along and grooving away to the corresponding sound of what appears to be the wail of electric violin.
Although Der B can be highly experimental here they have seemed to have concentrated on the actual songcraft and this album is much more cohesive as a whole than others I have heard from them. Over on the b) side expect a bit of a Floydian waft on numbers such as ‘My Soul Rests Low’ and a slightly and no doubt purposeful off-key vocal delivery just leaving you on the edge of comfort. I am actually reminded a bit of Sabbath Assembly at times here and there is certainly a bit of Jamie Myers about the singing and as far as titles such as ‘He Is Here’ a sugary bubblegum pop treat and ‘O Lord’ are concerned maybe some sort of common cult ground thematically. There’s also apart from the Krautish ballast and reminder of decades past some good old near space rock as songs such as ‘Forgotten’ chug away and give a good old Hawkwind etched rock out. I can see due to the sheer wealth of material Der B have released that starting to listen to them blind is a hell of a daunting task. ‘Wish I weren’t Here could well be a good starting point though as although it clearly has a lot of ideas it also has a sense of comfort about it and a wide range of cross-over appeal that should be enjoyed by anyone, perhaps even those not medically imbalanced although I can’t particularly give a proper assurance on that!
(8/10 Pete Woods)