Various Artists - Stählerne Lichter
Licht Und Stahl CD. Licht006
I watched The Road last night. Not as good as the book of course, Cormac McCarthy’s bleak prose described a post apocalyptic world in ways that Hollywood will never match but it did get me thinking about Stählerne Lichter and its end of the world soundtrack.
Post apocalyptic industrial ambience has its fans and I count myself amongst them. In the right hands a sense of foreboding can be a profound experience but when it goes wrong it does so in spectacular style. For every Dieter Müh you can count any number of outfits producing sounds that are tired and cliched. Think role playing computer game soundtracks, hackneyed samples stuck on groaning metal, crap that makes you think its creator has an entirely different concept of the apocalypse than the makers of The Road ever did.
Most comps usually carry the odd dud and its no disgrace, tastes will vary of course. The duds on Stählerne Lichter stand out like sore thumbs though. Not even fifteen tracks spread across eighty minutes of CD is enough camouflage for some.
Maybe thats the way forward? Fill your comp to bursting with similar sounding material and hope nobody notices? Alas Erdlicht, Le Syndicate and Galerie Schallschutz protruded too far for these seasoned ears. Le Syndicate’s track is the twin to Nurse With Wound’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Station; lolloping beats which inexplicably speed up towards their conclusion. Erdlicht go for the Nintendo 90’s role playing game experience in which you try to find the key to a door in a lonely castle. Terrible. The title of Galerie Schallschutz track is ‘Electro Convulsive Therapy’ which I think tells you everything you need to know about that track. Nothing wrong with going for the 1990’s Cold Meat dollar but amongst this sea of industrial ambience it just doesn’t sit right.
Thats the bad stuff out of the way though. The rest sails by in a sea of surreptitious ethnic drumming, Z’ev like spring clangings, meditative atmospherics and a delightful ditty containing simple strummed guitar, birdsong and the chimes of small xylophone. Standout tracks belong to Dieter Müh, Atrox, Wach and Fieberflug with maybe a few other contenders thrown in for good measure as well.
Dieter Müh’s five minutes of fame is a sublime mind sweep of treated samples covered in Arctic waste. Their use of a barely audible vocal sample is perfectly crafted and should be used as an example to all those who litter their work willy-nilly with every Charlie Manson soundbite they can lay their hands on - it could be a serial killer mumbling their most inner thoughts but likewise it could also quite easily be your mum leaving a shopping list on your voicemail. Flutwacht follow it up with some splendid treated clangings. A little like hitting a five mile long piece of six inch steel pipe with a wrench. N.Strahl.N contribute two tracks which causes me no end of confusion, the second track isn’t credited and appears as the last track thus throwing my meticulous research into chaos - am I crediting Fieberflug with the strumming ditty or is it Sturmkind? Have I wronged Le Syndicate when I should be nailing some uncredited bald headed bloke with a funny beard in Cologne? I work it out, eventually, but minus two points to Licht und Stahl for making me do the leg work. Back at N.Strahl.N’s first offering, the ritual drumming of ‘Blutleuchte’ is sublime, the last ‘Inwedig’ a desolate symphony of reverberating junk, not dissimilar to early Neubauten. The strumming belongs to Sturmkind. It shouldn’t work but it does. It should have been the last track too and it would have saved me all the head scratching. Pick the rest out yourself. Its worth the investment, despite the duds.