Sølyst: Sølyst
Bureau B

Thomas Klein's debut solo album under the name Sølyst sounds pretty much like what you'd expect from someone who's occupied the drum chair in Kreidler for fifteen years. In simplest terms, the album's eleven tracks perpetuate the electronic-krautrock style of the group but with the percussive dimension placed squarely at the forefront. That doesn't make Klein's Sølyst music any less arresting, mind you, as it certainly holds one's attention, especially when he integrates acoustic drums and electronically generated rhythm patterns into his tribalistic set-pieces.

“Hoorn of Plenty” is representative of the album in the degree to which it gives the percussive side such prominence. In this case an hypnotic weave of African patterns generated by Klein using natural drums and, one guesses, electronically simulated mallet percussion forms a ground for dramatic synth tones whose slow unfurl is in direct contrast to the driving rhythm elements. Klein wisely changes things up stylistically throughout, which keeps the listener engaged and the music sounding fresh. As a result, a loose electronic jam such as “Kelpie” is rendered more palatable than it otherwise would be had the album been filled with little more than simple variations on that theme. Elsewhere, “Melville” straddles futuristic and primal worlds in giving equal weight to thick synthesizer swells and tribal drum patterns, “Optimyst” plunges down dark, dystopic paths, and “Ned Land” gives the percussive focus to hi-hats, a move that allows the tune's melodic elements to move into the spotlight.

In the accompanying press text, one-time Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit is cited as a possible kindred spirit to Klein, and the point isn't off-the-mark, as both gravitate towards intricate patterns that undergo subtle alterations during reptition. There's also a strain of dub's DNA woven into the fifty-minute album, in particular the expansive open-endedness one associates with groove-heavy dub and, as such, the label suggested in the press text, “Tribal Dub Krautrock,” isn't far off the mark either. The description's certainly applicable to the album's penultimate track, “Cape Fear,” a chant-laden moodpiece which barrels forth with an intricate, echo-laden tribal swing, and the “Dim Lights,” a five-minute exercise in polythymic space-funk. Sølyst is an album that obviously won't appeal to all listeners but definitely could appeal to those with a soft spot for drum-driven projects.

September 2011