Two bands from two different parts of the world pay homage to the krautrock music genre at Birmingham’s Hare & Hounds music venue. Although it came to prominence in the early 1970s with bands such as Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk, the krautrock genre was born in West Germany during the student protests of the late 1960s. It was an experimental form of music that sought to move away from pop influenced by rhythm and blues in favour of the avant-garde, collage, and electronic sounds. It is into that zeitgeist that the bands performing tonight tap, but in the true spirit of the genre, they pay homage to krautrock, yet use it as a springboard to explore new musical territory.
Live Report: Minami Deutsch + Einstellung
The Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, 25.08.2022
Despite their Teutonic-sounding name Einstellung hail from Birmingham (a moniker which translates as “attitude” in English). So, this is something of a home town gig for them, and they certainly have a fair smattering of fans in the crowd. The UK’s “second city” is going through major urban redevelopment, and its brutalist architecture and associated stained, tired concrete, graffiti-scrawled dead ends, and dimly lit passage ways are being swept aside. The demolition of these megalithic buildings has left a hole in the city, and it’s this void that Einstellung are filling with their vast, monolithic sound. Aside from the krautrock influences, the band have a strong shoegaze vibe that recalls My Bloody Valentine, and the two combined create a brand of noise rock that’s very hypnotic.
Four friends who originally came together in 2003 to pool their respective record collections, Einstellung are a tight unit who make good use of musical dynamics, and juxtapose loud passages with quiet. With plenty of distortion, and heavy on the fuzz pedal, the band provide an intense, though not unpleasant, experience as waves of sonics wash over the listener, like a series of tsunamis crashing on the shore. Einstellung’s instrumental songs tend to veer towards the epic, and they have an improvisational, free form nature, yet they are (paradoxically) controlled and focused. The long, droning sections are trance inducing, and lull you into an altered state, before…pow! the hard-hitting rhythm section shocks you back to reality with a couple of heavy blows. The mute applause that greeted the start of their set turns into a crescendo at its conclusion, and I’m sure the band have made a few converts tonight.
Despite its early regionalism, krautrock was in no way parochial and it’s motorik beat soon spread to the UK where it inspired bands such as Hawkwind, and also David Bowie and his Berlin Trilogy. Therefore, I don’t find it so strange that a Japanese band should pick up the baton, and play it so convincingly. That band are tonight’s headliners Minami Deutsch, who were formed in Tokyo in 2014 by guitarist and vocalist Kyotaro Miula, and since then they’ve left a tantalising trail of vinyl, tracks from which make up tonight’s set. Against a backdrop of swirling images, the band appear and certainly look the part; they’re attired in the height of ‘70s fashion, and cultivate an image that’s the very epitome of cool. With a sound that melds sun-kissed, San Francisco space rock to glacial Germanic coolness, it seems that Minami Deutsch have cast a spell over a capacity crowd, and they hold them in rapt attention for the following hour-and-a-half.
Propelled forth by a driving beat, Minami Deutsch have a sound that’s akin to a spacecraft travelling through hyperspace, it’s rocket-fuelled and leaves a trail of sparkling notes in its slipstream. With unorthodox rhythms and time signatures the band’s set ebbs and flows like a river towards the sea; it twists and turns, rises and falls, and ululates on an unpredictable course. There’s a malleability to songs such as Fortune Goodies and Grumpy Joa that renders them different to their studio versions, its a plasticity which is shaped by improvisation, yet in whatever form the songs are presented, them remain easily recognisable. Employing tonality to great effect, Minami Deutsch’s sound resonates with the listener on some primordial level, and creates a vibration that pulsates throughout the venue, and makes the air crackle with an invisible electricity. As the final chords reverberate, you get the feeling of returning from some amazing journey, and its one you’ll want to repeat again and again.
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