KK 065CD KK 065CD

Karaoke Kalk introduces another exciting new artist to their roster. J.R.Plankton is a collaborative project by Jens Strüver and Robert Ohm. Strüver also manages the M=minimal label. His first collaboration with studio-nerd and multi-instrumentalist Robert Ohm was an hour-long radio-play/sound collage about the legendary composer Moondog, repeatedly broadcasted on German radio nationwide. Now, their own pure musical work Neon is nothing less than a tour de force. From the word go, the album sets an incredibly high standard. Opener "Musique Electronique" is, without a doubt, a nod to the founding fathers of German electronic music, Kraftwerk. The highly-charged electro style laid down on this opening track sets the pace for what follows over the remaining 37 minutes of the album. Clocking in at a massive 8 minutes, "City Jungle" is epic. Musically, the track switches down a gear though entering a more atmospheric world of ambient oscillations and arpeggiated synth sounds, while the tune moves towards a more driving, industrial feel towards the end. "Sundance" kicks in with a throbbing slap bass part, soon to be followed by wah-wahed guitars, all of which make for a surprise disco-funk track on this otherwise electro-oriented album. This is clearly a feel-good track and is sure to have any room jumping in seconds. The penultimate track "Nakamura" starts as another downbeat foray into ambient but again builds to reach a powerful, minimal crescendo. The track makes powerful use of textures to paint a sonic landscape which is a world unto itself. And this superb album draws to a close with "Regen" (trans. "Rain"), which is another masterpiece of arpeggio action. The tune teasingly implies that it might kick off at any moment, but the beat remains absent, creating instead a hypnotic tension. Neon has all the elements one might wish for from a modern electronic record. The experimental nature of some of the more protracted interludes should appeal to fans of Kraut and electronica: these moments are ideal for losing oneself in the trance-inducing intimacy of one's headphones. At the same time, there's plenty on the album to interest all you DJs out there who would do well to drop some of the more uptempo tracks on Neon. Debut albums don't come any stronger than this.