Greie Gut Fraktion Greie Gut FraktionBaustelle
“Late Junction” is a programme on BBC 3 where artists who have never collaborated in a recording studio before are invited to work together. Mira Calix & Malcom Middleton, Tortoise & Colin Newman (Wire) or Sweet Billy Pilgrim & Adem are some of the singular line-ups the initiative has brought forth. And also, in March 2009, the duo formed by Antye Greie-Fuchs (AGF, The Lappetites) and Gudrun Gut (Malaria!, Monika Enterprises). In fact, the couple found their little get-together so successful that they decided to continue it under the moniker Greie Gut Fraktion. And so we get “Baustelle”, an album which, like that first encounter, has construction as theme. Not as in an abstract conceptualisation of the evolution of something, but construction as in with bricks, cement and sand. Which could also be understood as a metaphor for many other things, and in fact I believe Greie Gut Fraktion take it that way, but it doesn’t really become clear. Either they don’t explain it well enough, or I am a bit obtuse.
With “Baustelle” the same thing happens as with real estate: the product’s worth is artificially pumped up until it explodes on the faces of those responsible. Yes, Greie-Fuchs and Gut use ad hoc field recordings with flair –drills, pneumatic hammers, tunnelling machines, etc– and yes, their version of Palais Schaumburg’s “Wir Bauen Eine Neue Stadt” is perfect. But why fool ourselves: similar tactics have been tried before –from Coldcut to Herbert or Barcelonese band Dargelos, not to mention all the musique concrète of the last sixty years– and with quite a lot more solidity, both ideologically and formally. Because the weakness of their basis isn’t compensated for with a solution which, no matter how much they call it “post-kraut-dub-industrial-techno”, remains a stylistic patchwork that juxtaposes materials rather than fuse them. To stay with the metaphor, the building GGF are constructing is like a discotheque for divorced people: different atmospheres in compartmentalised spaces. There is Kraut-rock (a little), there’s dub (quite a bit) and there’s hipster techno, apart from a good ambient job and impeccable technique, but the industrial thing, they’ll have to explain that to me. There’s too much ambition and too little substance. It’s not a bad contemporary electronic record but it fails in its intentions. It ends up closer to the Lehman Brothers than to the Sistine Chapel.