Restored 07 May 2017, originally published 15 November 2014
The seven tracks presented here grab some interesting historical musical elements; krautrock here, eighties synth sounds there, all mixed with more modern production and style. The title of the collection, “Turbulence,” is perhaps meant to hint at the variety of sounds. The album runs the gamut from pop to experimental.
This is another interesting mix of electronic music involving Wolfgang Merx. I enjoyed his solo release Security early this year. Now he’s back on the weareallghosts netlabel, this time collaborating with Nystada. Both musicians contribute synths, sequencers, and drum programming. Electronics all the way.
While I expected lots of unusual experimentation, opening track “Urbanität” caught me by surprise as it’s almost a pop track; really the only one here that readilyfits that description. It features a backward rhythm track and keyboard melody lines that are reminiscent of The Police song “How Stupid Mr. Bates.” It’s catchy and pulls you right in.
From here on out, however, it gets more varied and experimental. “Malfunction“ starts with a slow two-step rhythm that feels physically tired, like you’re not sure if the next beat will make it. Some simple keyboard notes are added along with various odd noises as the rhythm drags to the end.
I had to laugh at the title of the third song: “Motorik.” That title is not so much a hint as a statement of intent. As you would expect it features a pounding (well…motorik) beat along with meandering synth. This song feels sinister.
Halbdunkel” is the middle track and for me had the earmarks of Merx’s earlier work. Much like the song “Ten Thirty”, which was the centerpiece of Security, this song reminded me of Holgar Czukay’s solo work. Specifically, this feels like it would fit right on Czukay’s Movies LP, if you added sampled film dialogue.
“Turbulenz” is up next. This whole track is driven by rhythms, some of which sound acoustic (although they’re not), and is mixed with electronic lines that meander over the top of this experimental track. “Untergrund” is another, more ominous track. After an aggressive opening it sets out a simple Kraftwerkian beat, overlaid with dark synth and keyboard drone washes. “Sorcerer” rounds things out. There is no real melody to grab on to, but it features varied electronics over drones.
One final similarity Turbulence has with Security is the cover art. A nice black and white photo of a quiet European street, but what at first appears to be a street light is actually one of the security cameras on the cover of the Merx solo release.
Based on the notes from the artists, it sounds like they both went into this collaboration with trepidation and thinking of maybe just finishing one track. However, once they got started, things fell into place fairly quickly. The evidence here suggests these two should not hesitate to combine forces in the future.
Merx & Nystada – “Halbdunkel”
Turbulence purchase page