Hans-Joachim Irmler Lifelike Review

Released 2003.  

BBC Review

First solo album from Faust's keyboard man.

Peter Marsh 2003

Hans Joachim Irmler has spent a fair proportion of the last thirty three years playing keyboards in the mighty Faust. As far as I know this is his first solo record, and in fact it's the only Faust related solo effort I know of. Maybe that's no surprise; Faust (despite their shifting lineups) have always been governed by a communal spirit, and one where it's hard (or even beside the point) to pick out individual contributions.

What characterised Faust was their approach to studio technology; building their own bits of equipment or abusing others, they created a fantastically rich and entirely original noise. Irmler's solo music shows a similar level of invention, though the results are much different.

This music was originally recorded for a museum exhibition which recreated the lives of Roman soldiers based in Germany around the dawn of the 1st century AD. Irmler's re-ordered and reworked the tracks, and describes the resulting album as a 'fictional aural biography'.

While there are moments that could come straight off Faust IV (check the dirty gobs of distorted organ on "Trepido"), most of Life Like isa bit more like the more pastoral landscapes explored by Cluster or Hans Joachim Roedelius. Even at its most delicate, Irmler's music never descends to the level of mere prettiness; hushed, fragile piano figures are interrupted by what sounds like someone hammering on the hull of a spaceship. Dirty spumes of noise are flecked with distant whipcracks, while the sound of thunder threatens a gently meandering organ passage (shades of Faust here too).

It's a highly individual, warm, glowing soundworld, and Irmler stitches it all together with a grace and organic continuity that makes you feel like you're being told a story. Or maybe even a fictional aural biography. Beautiful.

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