This is an artful homage that drives the old Autobahn but steers clear of pastiche.
Louis Pattison 2008-07-09
If your grasp of German is shaky, it might be enlightening to be reminded that Eine Kleine Nacht Musik translates as 'A Little Night Music'. And that, essentially, is what this nine-track LP is – a set of twilight electronica presented with a Teutonic flourish. The man behind it is one Henry 'Riton' Smithson, and truth be told, he's every bit as German as Les Rythmes Digitales' Stuart Price is a Frenchman.
Instead, Eine Kleine Nacht Musik finds Smithson delving into the archives of electronic Krautrock and early German synthesiser music, taking the sounds of Tangerine Dream, Cluster, and Harmonia and reworking them in his own image. Much of Smithson's equipment sounds reliably authentic to the era: there's no doubting, for instance, the vintage of those analogue synths, while elsewhere, on the likes of Berdolater, sitars, glockenspiels and xylophones add depth and texture.
It's not all kosmische Kraut daydreaming. Eine Kleine Nacht Musik sees the light of day on dance imprint Modular, so as you might expect, at times the promise of the dancefloor exerts its pull. Feverprobe begins with noodling synthesiser lines and a half-formed drum beat revolving low in the mix, but gradually builds, taking on atmospheric layers before blasting skyward on raved-up keyboard stabs and crashing, live-sounding disco drums. There's little doubting, though, that Smithson has attempted to keep the spirit of his inspiration as intact as possible. This leads to uncomfortable moments occasionally – mid-way through Finister, a voice in your head may ask 'why am I not listening to Neu! instead?' – but for the most part this is an artful homage that drives the old Autobahn but steers clear of pastiche.