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Jonas Reinhardt - Powers of Audition



With such a dramatic title you do expect to hear something that matches the stance. Reinhardt’s second album on Kranky eschews the label’s typical drones and lilting ambience for an all out rhythmic assault that harks back to his German Heros’ heyday.

Whereas his debut was a miasma of analogue synthesizers with only him at the helm, here a coterie of musicians are on board for a 7 track journey into cosmic rock.  As much as the reinvigoration of this current generation of musicians who value old analogue electronics is good to see, there is also a feeling that too much wholesale reworking of that style devalues it. What’s the point of playing material of this nature without doing something new with it? We seem to occupy a period at the moment where it’s difficult to see a way forward with a lot of new music and it’s disappointing to hear something that really doesn’t move forward from a period that is now nearly 40 years old. Furthermore it’s hard to pick out a particular identity from Reinhardt’s arrangements that marks him out, unlike for example Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never, who is in the same territory.

“Orbiter Dicta” encapsulates this issue. I’s a beautifully composed track, with some wonderful guitar dancing over a shuffling, distant backbeat. Tet one can’t escape the feeling that it’s a matter of the composer thinking that he wanted to merge the sounds of Klaus Schulze with Manuel Gottsching. The wonderfully titled “Only You Can Achieve Nitrogen” again fails to really separate itself from the overall feeling of dedication on this album.  Nelodramatic at times, “Atomic Bomb Living” merges Amon Duul style tub-thumping with the cosmic guitar work of the aforementioned Gottsching but it’s also hard to find a real sense of individuality amongst all the faultless teutonic worship.

It’s then fulfilling to hear that the album does have songs with a more distinctive musical identity.  Easily the best track, giving the album a much-needed sense of drama and release, is the pregnant tension in “Near a Mirrored Pit Viper”. Complemented by some excellent atmospheric squalls, the song mutates without losing its dark edge. The title track that comes next has the necessary motorik rhythm but Reinhardt’s synthesizer dominates proceedings finally with a style that is his own.

“Wastrel Eyelid” though closes the album in predictable  fashion, being a journey into the most self-indulgent synthesizer workout you can imagine. It’s a shame because Reinhardt demonstrates much in the way of musical proficiency throughout  “Powers of Audition”. The overall feeling of hero-worship at the feet of these German bands makes it hard to really savour this album in the long-term, but I guess that fans of that era will enjoy this tribute.

Toby Frith

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