Elektro Guzzi Elektro GuzziElektro Guzzi
Digital fireworks. Latest-generation danceable software. Programmed boxes of rhythms. 8-bit sounds. An excess of artificial intelligence. I, robot. Technology is unforgiving; it invades us, making us into slaves of its algorithms and perfect formulas. These are times of pure, carefully-calculated mathematics; hard times for the guitar, bass, and drum. In an era when dance music and real instrumentation go together about like angry Celtics fans and the great Kobe Bryant, feats like “Elektro Guzzi” land on earth like giant spaceships that can only be admired or even feared. With the coals of Viennese post-rock hotter than ever, and the “cultured” critics are having orgasms over groups like Radian or Denseland, the arrival of this Austrian group on the scene comes at the right time and the right place. Fed up with digital overproduction, filters, programmed loops and fucking Ableton? Take it easy, in Vienna they’re weird like that, and Elektro Guzzi is making handcrafted minimal techno, with instruments, as if they were musical potters swimming against the current, shaping their own proposal without any damn machine telling them how they have to do things.
Bernhard Hammer (guitar), Jakob Schneidewind (bass) and Bernhard Breuer (drums) have seen clearly that experimental rock (lately some people have been adding the prefix “kraut” to give it more class, while others call it “post”) and forms of danceable electronic music can be conjugated in the laboratory. That is, techno can be created from tangible instrumentation and virtuosity. The alchemy is demanding, without a doubt, and the secret of the combination of elements isn’t within the reach of just any Tom, Dick, or Harry, but that’s why they counted on Patrick Pulsinger as their producer: his contribution seems to be invaluable, achieving that peculiar club affinity that makes Elektro Guzzi a unique band worthy of being studied under a microscope. The Austrian trio has managed to shake up the test tubes with tact and good measure. The result is a majestic combination of edgy techno, shadowy minimal, Martian jazz and futurist tribalism. But don’t think that this is music to go to sleep to. The tone of the album is nervous. It’s not bothersome, but it is tense enough to create a very pronounced state of uneasiness –anxiety, even– in the listener. The beats of the bass are pounding, turbulent pinches - “Ludium” is pure suspense. The drums seeks out impossible capers that don’t let your brain rest, there are disturbing sounds that come and go, and the guitars travel through the headphones like mocking spectres.
Surrounding this strange, exotic world we find a powerful electromagnetic field that gives off darkness and threatening gases. There isn’t a good feeling or any good vibrations: just half-light, winding techno-dub and mist. “Hexenchuss” is perhaps one of the clearest examples, sounding like a soundtrack from a spy movie. “Black Egg” also transmits the same feeling of uneasiness, hammering danceable beats, mysterious stops, satanic low notes… But this tendency to seek out ambiental tension is coloured by an organic percussion that marks a highly characteristic polyhedral tempo–one minute tribal, and afrobeat the next. In “Sediment” they take the polyrhythms to their final consequences, achieving a sort of ultra-accelerated percussive mantra, like bongos splashed with speed, that ends up mutating into noisy hard techno with a wild rush in pure Joey Beltram style. The 4/4 stamp also sticks out in “Jackpump”, a sensational cut where they also perfect their most solid sneer: it’s like listening to the most trotting Jeff Mills being played by a jazz trio. Seamless, filler-free, fearless, Elektro Guzzi has taken over where Red Snapper left off, but with an added difficulty: it’s one thing to practice jazz with drum’n’bass rhythms, but to get quality minimal with instruments is quite another, though it has much more merit. Rage against the machine, of course.