Ever since the late sixties, Düsseldorf has had a thriving, vibrant and eclectic music scene. In the early days, the heart of the Düsseldorf music scene was in the Old Town. This was a bohemian area, full of students and people who were interested in art, literature and music. Many young musicians gravitated towards the Old Town, looking for likeminded people. Soon, they were forming bands together, and began to write a new chapter in German music.
Especially between 1969 and 1986, when Düsseldorf became synonymous with electronic music. This was a golden age for electronic music. Some of the best, and most innovative electronic music that was released during this period, came out of Dusseldorf. This music went on to influence several generations of bands. The same can be said of many other bands whose roots can be traced to Düsseldorf.
This includes Kraftwerk, Kluster, Cluster, Neu!, La Düsseldorf, DAF, Der Plan and Die Krupps. Their roots can be traced to Düsseldorf. So can Kreidler’s who were formed in Düsseldorf in 1994, by Thomas Klein, Andreas Reihse, Detlef Weinrich, and Stefan Schneide. This was the start of a three decade musical adventure for Kreidler.
Twenty-three years later, and Kreidler are still together. The only change in the lineup came in 1998, when Stefan Schneider left to form To Rococo Rot. The bassist was replaced by Alexander Paulick of Coloma and Narrow Bridges. That has been the lineup of Kreidler ever since.
Nineteen years later, and Kreidler continue to combine electronic and analog instruments to create their own unique, genre-melting sound. It’s featured on twelve studio albums so far. Soon, twelve will become thirteen when Kreidler release their new album European Song on the Bureau B label on the 7th of April 2017. European Song is very different album than Kreidler had originally envisaged.
The story began in early 2016, when Kreidler decided to begin work on the followup to ABC, which was released in 2014. To record the album, Kreidler flew to Mexico City. That was where the band began recording an album that had a much lighter, more minimalist and playful sound than their recent albums. It looked like Kreidler were going to showcase a very different side to their music. However, this changed after the events of November ‘8th’ 2016.
The four members of Kreidler had followed the US Presidential election closely. When Donald Trump triumphed over Hilary Clinton, this came as a shock to the members of Kreidler. They weren’t convinced by his “man of the people” approach to politics. Instead, Kreidler saw this as yet another example of what was wrong with the world. This would add to the uncertainty, violence and xenophobia that was spreading across parts of Europe.
This had already happened in Britain, after the country voted to leave the EU. Meanwhile, other parts of Europe lurched to the right. Right wing extremists were making their presence felt in Turkey, Russia and Hungary. It was a similar case in Germany, Holland and France. Kreidler were horrified as they watched these events unfold. They still hadn’t finished their new album, so decided to write new tracks that had been inspired by the events in America and Europe.
Having written these new tracks, Kreidler entered the studio in late 2016. They had just returned from a short tour, and were playing better than ever. It was perfect timing for Kreidler as they returned to the studio.
Drummer Thomas Klein was joined by bassist and guitarist Alexander Paulick. Detlef Weinrich was responsible for electronic sequences and Andreas Reihse for synthetic soundscapes.As recording began, Kreidler’s playing was tight as they improvised on the five tracks that became European Song. Once they were completed, neither overdubbing nor post-production was required. All that was needed was some editing to tighten the mixes and remove some of the rough edges. Now European Song was ready for release on ‘7th’ April 2017, by the Hamburg based Bureau B label.
As Boots opens European Song there’s a sense of drama and urgency. Metallic sounds reverberate, while a growling, mesmeric bass synth joins jangling ethnic percussion. This is ironic, as
Kreidler is about to replicate sonically the rise of the far right across Europe. Soon, sci-fi synths briefly interject, They drop out, but soon return. Still, the slow, mesmeric soundscape continues to build. So does the drama, urgency and tension. Later, futuristic, shimmering sounds warns of danger ahead. The danger is the far right, as its tentacles spreads further across Europe. By then, the tension, drama and darkness has grown. It continues to build, just like the far right, marches along relentlessly across Europe. Boots is a ruminative reminder of the changing political climate, and its potential ramifications.
Urgent stabs of dark synths join crisp drums on Kannibal, and create a hypnotic backdrop. Soon, the drums gallop and the tempo rises. Washes of eerie synths join the galloping drums and later, sinister chants are added. Although there’s a darkness to the music, it’s melodic. Later, snarling, growling sounds can be heard, as Kreidler replicate Europe eating itself on a this captivating soundscape full of social comment.
The arrangement to Coulées scurries along, with a myriad of percussion and synths replicating the sounds of machines. Soon, it sounds as if Kreidler have brought Kraftwerk’s Man Machine to life. It becomes part of an alternative electronic symphony. Bells ring while buzzes, beeps, squeaks, industrial sounds join with a plucked bass and pounding drums. By then, the Man Machine is dancing. What to though? Surely not to the tune of politicians who have transformed Europe political landscape? Meanwhile, drums crack, seesaw strings are scrubbed, a bass is pounded and industrial sound punctuate the soundscape. All the time, sounds flit in and out, playing their part in an electronic symphony that’s melodic and cinematic.
Drums pound, percussion jangles and joins jarring sounds on Radio Island. Soon, they’re joined the crackling sound of radio that’s not been tuned properly. They’re part of galloping, genre-melting soundscape. Always there’s an urgency and intensity to this pulsating, bristling soundscape. It’s as if it could explode at any minute. Meanwhile, sounds continually flit in and out. This includes a whining, whistling sounds and the hopeful beep of a synth. At the heart of the arrangement are drums, percussion and synths. They drone, beep, squeak, whine and crackle as the drums power the soundscape relentlessly along. All the time, sonic adventurers Kreidler sculpt this myriad of disparate sounds and instruments to create an urgent, bristling and dramatic thirteen minute epic soundscape.
No God closes European Song. Swells of shrill synths shriek, but soon, are replaced by thunderous drums, edgy harmonies and a crackling. Midway through the soundscape the shrill synths return, and are joined by eighties synths. They provide a contrast to the drama created by the thunderous drums. Still, crackling sound, punchy harmonies and stabs of synths are and sci-fi sounds added. Later, ethereal sounds rain down and are joined by the harmonies. Soon, they’re replaced by pounding drums, sci-fi sounds and punchy, edgy harmonies as the drama builds and defiantly, Kreidler proclaim there’s No God.
After five carefully sculpted soundscapes lasting thirty-six minutes, Kreidler’s captivating new album European Song is over. Kredler it seems have concentrated on quality rather than quantity. This has worked well for Kreidler as there isn’t a weak soundscape on European Song. It’s one of the best album Kreidler have released in recent years.
On European Song, Kreidler combined elements of avant-garde, Berlin School, DarkPop, electronica, experimental, industrial and Krautrock. It’s a potent musical mixture, and one that Kreidler have spent the last twenty-three years honing. However, on European Song they reach new heights on what’s one of the most important albums of recent years.
European Song was inspired by the changing political climate in Europe and America, at the end of 2016. This resulted in a very different album to the one Kreidler began to record in Mexico City. It was replaced by European Song, which featured what’s described as five “apocalyptic soundscapes.” They’re thought provoking and full of social comment. The music on European Song also ruminative and invites reflection at the change in the political landscape. That is just part of the story of European Song.
The five genre-melting soundscapes on European Song are variously dark, dramatic, futuristic, hypnotic and mesmeric. Other times, there’s an immediacy and an urgency to the music on European Song. Always though, the music is captivating, cinematic and melodic. European Song is also a thought-provoking album full of social comment, where Kreidler create compelling cinematic soundscapes and in the process, reach new musical heights.