It was only last May that the second album by this simmering trio dropped. Gawd, I hate that expression! You drop yer kecks or your keys. Could have been worse, I could have used “sophomore”, too. Anyway, let’s start again…
Das Rad’s previous and second issue, the very fine Adios Al Futuro only hit the racks (that ain’t much better, is it?) some 15 months before this, their third missive, entitled Laik Tors, but what else is there to do during these restrictive times but to lock yourself in your music shed with your two besties and make some see-ree-us racket?! It seems Das Rad consist of three Facebook friends of mine, so I better mind my Ps and Qs. Not that I need worry, as the noises emanating from my own music shed, courtesy of my newly turbocharged and now glorious hi-fi are sequenced in such a way as to take me on a trip through all manner of vertiginous twists and turns along the alternative UK rock music high road less travelled. Starvation Hound had me imagining the sinister croon of a Berlin period David Bowie over the top of it, which goes some way to describing the dark ambience within these zeros and ones.
Switching between composed and improvised elements, sometimes obviously, sometimes seamlessly, Laik Tors puts a distinct Deutscherock influence – dig those crazy track titles! – through Nick Robinson’s tumultuous spacerock chops, via Martin Archer’s leftfield and deftly skilled jazz blender, all propelled along by Steve Dinsdale’s subtle and/or driven rhythmic heft.
The suitably languid feel to Lebensmude becalms the listener, all energy ebbed away, its ten or so minutes drifting into Kopfino, which in its latter half features some sublime woodwind from Martin. Mauger Hay is driven by Steve’s motorik pulse, and the impression gained so far is of a more considered work than Adios…, or of being cast further out of reach of Earth’s orbit. Indeed, the title track floats through Kosmische debris, synth patches and keyboard drones aplenty, bearing some semblance to early Tangs. This is not a bad thing.
This rarefied and quality sonic tonic comes from the attuned vibrations of three like-minded but musically very different souls, united in their quest for the deepest seam of Ur-rock. Along the way, the music they coax out of their instruments and various boxes of electronic jiggery-pokery seems to play them, rather than the other way round. The title track has the otherworldly quality of a Popol Vuh Werner Herzog soundtrack, as it slowly ascends to a state of grace on the back of swirling keys and guitar, and subsonic rumblings, before insistent but subtle snare rolls push it still higher.
After the short woodwind-led interlude of Kaprise!, the album closer, a ten-minute lurching and louche thing, sees Nick’s dirty guitar steer the Starvation Hound through a pile of discarded pizza boxes and half empty chip containers semi-concealing comatose revellers carelessly sprawled down the back alleys of our darkest imaginings, as we grab the last hover-taxi back to the dystopia that passes for daily reality.
Shrouded in “the smoke of Hell”, we emerge, strangely tingling, but oddly Norman.
01. Offtwerk (7:20)
02. Satanic Particles (4:56)
03. Kapow! (4:33)
04. Lebensmude (9:51)
05. Kopfkino (8:00)
06. Mauger Hay (6:36)
07. Laik Tors (7:08)
08. Kaprise! (1:17)
09. Starvation Hound (10:20)
Total Time – 60:01
Nick Robinson – Guitars, Keyboards, Electronics
Martin Archer – Woodwind, Keyboards, Synth Bass, Electronics
Steve Dinsdale – Drums, Keyboards, Electronics
Record Label: Discus Music
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 25th August 2021