Irmler & Einheit ‘Bestandteil’ (Klangbad)

Series of Faustian pacts between the organ experimentalist and assorted percussionists continues

Last year’s ‘Flut’ collaboration between Faust founder Hans-Joachim Irmler and Can’s metronomic forager Jaki Liebezeit was one of the albums of 2015, invoking ancient ritual catharsis as the former’s keyboards duelled with the latter’s featherlight pulses like astral entities locked in the same time warp. It was the latest out-of-body miracle to be spawned in the Faust studio as part of Irmler’s ongoing mission to explore matching keyboards with different percussionists, which had previously brought him together with Gudrun Gut and Christian Wolfarth.

For this set, Irmler chose FM Einheit, who has been known recently for his collaborations with Diamanda Galás, Mona Mur, Andreas Ammer and Ulrike Haage (although he started in the late 70s with punk outfits such as Palais Schaumberg). Many remember Einheit as a founder member of the fearsome Einstürzende Neubauten, infamously extracting rhythms from his custom-made metal instruments or tools such as road-drills. When I saw him in action in the early 80s, he practically reduced an LA stage to flaming matchwood with his latest power toy. After leaving Neubauten in the mid-90s, Einheit worked on film soundtracks and then formed Gry with Danish singer Gry Bagøien.

In 2009, Einheit teamed up with Irmler for ‘No Apologies’, which almost seems like a skeletal proto-type for the cauldron unleashed by the pair here as they explore mating Irmler’s organ with an instrument of Einheit’s own invention, the bass-spring, and various found sounds. ‘Bestandteil’ is actually edited down from eight two-day jams conducted between 2012 and 2015. Honing such a monstrous bulk of material into a single CD must have been a monumental endeavour, but Irmler and Einheit have emerged with a work that is quite startling in the unearthly resonance and aural whirlpools they spark up between them.

The droning intro static of ‘Reset’ paves the way for ‘Brooks’, which sees Irmler kick his organ into searing exclamations that rage like electrocuted Medusa locks before settling into stretches of uneasy calm. Meanwhile, Einheit sends out shadowy pulses constructed from bass-spring resonance and disembodied chorale shards, sometimes sculpting something approaching a hip hop beat (if heard filtering up from the bowels of another planet). ‘The Taking’ is built from snippets of theatrical recordings made by Einheit, including brass, strings and voices, inspiring Irmler into queasy overdrive.

While the sounds can get savage and almost impenetrably dense, tracks such as ‘Treat’, or the sepulchral calm of the intro to ‘Streetlife’, introduce floatation tank-like weightlessness as the organ takes a rest from howling at the super blood moon and Einheit pulls back the throttle on his arsenal of counter-tones. It’s rather like a good film introducing some calm to make the storm more effective, while Einheit’s skilfully sculpted rhythms make sure the album retains a semblance of groove.

The set finishes with a reprise of ‘Brooks’, obviously another section of that particular jam, with both participants – and the listener – by now locked into the almost demonic alchemy crackling between them, long unbound by earthly restraints. If ‘Bestandteil’ is anything to judge by, hopefully Irmler’s series will continue to fly and fly.

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