Beltism

Of krautrock and Klang

So, krautrock.

I suspect most of us have a mental image of what krautrock should sound like, but it’s odd because as Stuart Maconie succinctly pointed out “in truth, no two Krautrock acts sound remotely alike“. The very term krautrock itself sticks in my craw, but for whatever reason, the alternative – less offensive – names like kosmische musik just haven’t really gained the same widespread acceptance. Some people argue that the term has transcended its racist origins; I’m not convinced, but for the sake of ease of common understanding, we’ll stick with ‘krautrock’ for now.

I expect my journey into krautrock was not unusual; I listened to Kraftwerk as a young teen, graduating to Faust and Tangerine Dream when I should have just been graduating. Then as an adult with an ever-expanding musical taste, an inquisitive disposition and a little more disposable income I found bands like Neu! and Can, and started to understand how significant they have been in the development of rock music. Then you get into the hard stuff – Amon Düül II, Cluster, Popol Vuh, Harmonia and so on. Before long you start meeting people in car parks who might be able to source a rare La Düsseldorf demo.

The Submarine Broadcasting Company is just over a year old now, and we’re immensely proud of the releases we’ve achieved in our first year. But now we want to broaden our horizons and turn our attention to the krautrock that we’re so passionate about. So with that in mind we set out to find today’s krautrock-influenced bands and present a showcase of their music. This is our new project. This is Klang.

We’ve got eight great bands and the tracks demonstrate a heady mix of motorik, kosmische and elektronische influences, along with a healthy dose of psych and garage rock. Our line-up includes the legendary Six By Seven, from Italy we have Unimother 27, from Finland the Oulu Space Jam Collective, Peri Esvultras from Belgium, Shice Squad from Germany, from the UK we have Dynamo Snackbar and Beltism, and from no fixed address we have t.r. hand. We have some rare tracks, some exclusive mixes and some  tracks exclusive to Klang.

So far, so good. But if you are going to make a krautrock compilation, we felt it really needs to be on vinyl. We all know nothing compares with the look, the feel – even the smell – of a great vinyl LP. And we want to do it properly – heavyweight vinyl, gatefold sleeve, optimum length for best sound quality, the whole nine yards.

The initial costs for a vinyl project are huge compared to our previous CD projects, so we’re going to be asking for your help to raise the money to press what is going to be a very special album. Towards the end of February, maybe start of March, we’ll be running a Kickstarter campaign to help us meet the manufacturing costs.

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Artist’s impression. Not to scale. Contents may vary from packaging. Serving suggestion only.

I really hope you’ll support us in this venture. It’s a big deal for us, in every respect. So even if krautrock isn’t your first choice of listening pleasure, or vinyl isn’t your prefered medium, I hope you’ll think about putting a couple of quid in to get us across the line. Keep an eye open for the Kickstarter, although I expect we might just mention it again.

Rob x

Review: Dream Topography

Rob from SBC and Beltism reviews Argali Records’ new experimental compilation, Dream Topography:

In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out I was delighted to have a Beltism track included on this compilation. But let’s pretend I’m impartial and concentrate on the other tracks.

Argali Records is the brainchild of John Lithium (aka Nathan Carter) and continues its reputation for promoting new independent experimental music with this compilation, loosely themed around dreams.

What immediately struck be about this compilation is the variety of artists taking part; in addition to the usual suspects who frequent my quarter of the ambient and experimental nether regions of the Internet, there were several artists completely new to me. And the other notable feature is the quality of the submissions. As we at SBC can testify, you never know what you’re going to get with an open-call compilation, and it’s difficult to please all tastes, so ultimately it’s pretty rare to produce a compilation that doesn’t involve reaching for the Skip button at some point, but the quality on this one is consistently high.

The album opens with one of its most melodic tracks, Cousin Silas’ evocative ‘Fever Dreams’, with its repeated piano motif full of half-memories and yearning. Glove of Bones’ ‘Psychopomp (Fuck Turquoise)’ that follows shortly after is an altogether more disturbing affair – the dreams that inspired this dark and damaged piece were the result of blue cheese and peyote buttons before bedtime. Mean Flow’s ‘Dream Land’ is a short drone, dark but also meditative, unsettling but cleverly textured.

One of my favourite tracks is Ars Sonor’s ‘Shattered Dreams’, a barren haunting soundscape, redolent of winter, possibly a nuclear one. James Lowe’s ‘Transparency One’ continues in the same vein, a fragile and chilling peace which unfolds into a collage of disturbing sounds that would work nicely in a Tarkovsky film.

Jack Hertz’s ‘Half Moon Dream’ is delightfully textured, rich with unnerving sounds drifting in and out of focus; I don’t think this is a particularly happy dream, but to answer Bill Nelson’s question, I’m fairly sure Jack dreams in colour. Jaime Munarriz’s ‘Out of the Dark Zone’ swirls ominous bell-like (campaniform?) sounds, cleverly teasing us that something beautifully melodic, or terrifyingly anarchic, will happen, but much like trying to read a newspaper in a dream, we never get a clear view for long enough to be sure.

Playman54’s music is always a delight, and ‘Ghost Echoes 2’ on this compilation is no exception. I don’t know Colin’s influences, but I often find there is something in his music that makes me think of Harold Budd or Roger Eno; he has a way of making his reverb sound reassuringly expensive, I just want to sink back and wallow in it.

My two favourite tracks on the compilation appear back to back, starting with ‘Liquid Tale of a Dying Star’ by Citiborax. One of the longer tracks on the compilation, this track takes the listener on a journey, reaching a threatening peak midway through, then at the ten minute mark a beautiful and haunting guitar refrain, joined later by scattered analog synth reassures you that it’s all going to be OK and it was only a dream.

The following piece, ‘Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia’ (that’s the single, right there guys) by Sharpen!Strokes is another track that cleverly forms beauty from chaos. Initially suggesting you might be in for seven minutes of harsh noise, the saw waves give way to melodic burst of bleeps and an underpinning of mechanical rhythm. I can’t find the words to do it justice, but it’s genius.

This is a very solid compilation; if you like experimental or dark ambient music, I would strongly recommend this album as you’ll find many tracks that you will want to return to again and again. If you’re new to experimental music, or just experimental-curious, do give this a try; it’s relatively free of white noise and static and packed with ideas and ingenuity. It’s ‘name your price’ on Bandcamp, so you really have no excuse not to own this album.

 

News from the conning tower

Crikey O’Riley. There’s a lot going on. So, in no particular order, the Exhibition compilations: you know about those, yeah? Well, they’re ticking over nicely, we’ve already had some really strong tracks submitted and some very encouraging expressions of interest from several artists. Closing date is end of March, but you knew that.

We are also putting together a Krautrock/Kosmische/Motorik inspired compilation; sworn to secrecy around some of the participants, but very pleased to say we have Dynamo Snackbar, Shice Squad, Unimother 27 and Peri Esvultras on board. And Beltism, of course. Always with the Beltism.

Thirdly, a lot of work has been going on for the new Submarine Broadcasting Co. signing, whose new EP we hope to release in February. A few i’s to dot and t’s to cross, but it’s all looking very promising. We’ll share more as soon as we can.

Finally, two very special compilations, not on SBC but thoroughly deserving of your ears and money. Firstly, Studio 4632’s benefit compilation for the wonderful Modul 303 webradio station:

And secondly Argali Records’ sublime experimental compilation Dream Topography:

The Story So Far…

So far, the releases on Submarine Broadcasting Co. look something like this:

  • The ‘One String Inspiration’ compilation benefit for Syria Relief
  • The ‘Traumnovelle’ EP by Beltism
  • The ‘Songs from the Imaginary Dancehall’ EP by Beltism
  • The ‘Post:Soc’ compilation benefit for Depaul International homelessness charities
  • The ‘Swagger’ EP by Beltism.

The vision behind One String Inspiration was to push the artists outside their comfort zones; we challenged the artists to incorporate a home-made instrument or a found object – strings, wind, percussion, anything at all – that can be processed in any way but must be prominent in the mix. The end result was an album of exceptional creativity, sometimes melodic, sometimes experimental and sometimes frankly plain disturbing. The compilation raised a decent amount of money for Syria Relief, boosted by our decision to make it available on physical CD, rather than just digital download only. You can listen to and buy One String Inspiration from its own Bandcamp site, here:

 

Having done the legwork of setting up a netlabel, it seemed foolish not to use it for our house band, Beltism. Unfortunately Beltism don’t fit neatly into any bag: sometimes it’s ambient, another day Krautrock, the next it’s EDM. We do try to make the EPs vaguely thematic but it’s all driven by our ever-changing moods. All but the latest release is ‘pay what you want’, over at Bandcamp: Beltism Discography

After the success of One String Inspiration, we launched Post:Soc, a compilation of thoughts, comments and reactions to our “post-everything” society. More about Post:Soc in a later update.

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