2014 Artists' Picks

A Far Cry
Black Vines
Borghi & Teager
EM62 & Cancino
Flug 8
William Ryan Fritch
Frode Haltli
Erik Honoré
Marsen Jules
Inoo-Kallay Duo
Kimyan Law
Man Watching the Stars
Marble Sky
Mini Pops Junior
Roach & Reyes
Secret Pyramid
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Andy Stott
Ryan Streber
Swarm Intelligence
Terminal Sound System
Erik Truffaz & Murcof
Unto Ashes

Sylvain Chauveau
Brian Eno

Now's The Time 3

EPs / Cassettes / Singles
Michael Ashe
Far Out Mon. Disco Orch.
Neil Leonard
Stag Hare

Flug 8: Trans Atlantik
Disko B

Building upon the 2008 twelve-inch Taunus and 2009 album Lösch dein Profil (both on Acid Pauli's Smaul imprint), Trans Atlantik arrives as the debut outing on Disko B records by German producer Daniel Herrmann under the Flug 8 name. It's a generous set at seventy-seven minutes—some might say too generous—that wears its influences on its sleeve, Kraftwerk foremost among them (track titles like “Konsumprodukt” and “Android” alone suggest the connection). In addition, “Musik Aus Metall” nods in Einstürzende Neubauten's direction, while the vocal stylings of guest Mono Girl (Danish artist Kristina Kristoffersen) on two songs can't help but invite comparison to Bjork.

Herrmann would appear to have no qualms about plundering the past for his material. Tracks such as “Zeitraffer” and “Android” liberally mine the electronic, krautrock, and industrial traditions associated with the ‘70s and figures like Klaus Schulze and Kraftwerk in the way they weave minimal drum machine beats, classic synthesizer sounds, and man-machine vocals into oft-urgent set-pieces.

Yet despite the overly derivative character of its material, Trans Atlantik nevertheless offers moments of listening pleasure. If one can get beyond the title cut's debt to Kraftwerk (the moment the monotone voice utters “Trans Atlantik,” it's impossible not to be reminded of the vocal delivery in “Trans-Europe Express”), the track itself is certainly engaging enough, and the Mono Girl tracks do add vocal contrast to an album that otherwise emphasizes a comparatively dehumanized vocal delivery. Even better, the Mono Girl songs themselves are different in style, with “Watch Me Grow” a brooding, even haunted electro-pop song and “On A Spear” an arresting, chant-based moodscape.

If “Musik Aus Metall” recalls Einstürzende Neubauten, it at least does so honestly as it's N.U. Unruh who's credited with the metal sounds on the clubby industrial-techno track, and the similarly industrial-disco-styled “Hohenkammer” naturally possesses a rather metallic quality, too. And unlike the dark, club-inflected style of many tracks, “Maler” provides five minutes of luscious, synth-heavy serenity. Still, as mentioned, Trans Atlantik feels long at seventy-seven minutes, and Herrmann would have been wise to shave a minute or two off of the longer tracks, considering that a number are in the seven- to nine-minute range.

January 2015