Posted on May 17th 2010 06:52 am
15 Tracks. 69mins25secs
Thomas Fehlmann is a true veteran of the music scene, having made his debut over thirty years ago with avant-garde outfit Palais Schaumburg, with whom he released several albums and EPs between 1980 and 1984. Since, he has been a prominent member of bands such as Sun Electric, The Orb, 3MB or FFWD, while his solo releases have appeared on R&S and sister label Apollo, Plug Research or Kompakt. For his latest project, Fehlmann created a series of tracks to feature as part of the soundtrack to 24H Berlin, a twenty four hour long documentary for German TV following a handful of Berliners during a whole day. While only a few tracks eventually appeared in the documentary, Fehlmann edited the material he had gathered into a cohesive record.
Gute Luft visits many of the themes that have infused Fehlmann’s work. His characteristic blend of techno, which fuses the classic sound of Detroit with its more minimal dub-charged Berliner counterpart, takes once again centre stage here, with lush strips of ambient bringing vibrant undertones to the surface at regular intervals. With fifteen tracks totalling just under seventy minutes, this is a lengthy journey through beautifully crafted electronic music. Whilst this album consists entirely of original material, there are hints of earlier recordings, taken from both his solo catalogue and from his work with The Orb, scattered throughout the record. Echoes of Honigpumpe can be found on Von Oben, while Berliner Luftikus nods to the more atmospheric side of records such as Visions Of Blah, and Wasser Im Fluss and Schwerelos revisit some The Orb’s Okie Dokie‘s most striking featured, adding to the strong impression of familiarity that is felt here. This is furthermore emphasised when Fehlmann uses particular themes at different stages of the record. This is perhaps a way for him to express the connections that his work has with his adopted home city, as to anchor this soundtrack firmly in Berlin itself.
The album has however an identity all of its own, and is devised as a stand-alone piece. How Fehlmann’s pieces are woven into the narrative of the documentary is unclear, but Gute Luft doesn’t require any visual support to function. It is defined by its rather varied collection of tracks, ranging from impeccable linear techno moments (Schwerelos, Speeding, Permanent Touch, Fluss Im Wasser) to exquisite dreamy sequences (Von Oben, Darkspark, Im Uberblick) and much more sombre moments (Falling Into Your Eyes, In The Wind II), but Fehlmann binds the diverse aspects of this record together by applying a very clear sound structure to his compositions to ensure a coherent whole.
Gute Luft perhaps lacks the focus of some of Thomas Fehlmann’s previous outputs, but it remains a brilliant exercise in dub-infused techno of the sort he know to assemble. Soundscapes and beats are particularly controlled and applied with extreme precision to achieve maximum impact, and while there is nothing new to his sound here, this record is already proving to be a classic record in Fehlmann’s canon.
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