Wild Mercury Sound

Krautrock revisited: Arp and Holy Fuck

John Mulvey

Recently, there seems to have been something of a Krautrock revival, comparable to that time in the early ‘90s when Stereolab, Tortoise and sundry putative post-rockers were assiduously cribbing their old Neu! albums. The appearance of a neat Harmonia live CD, that I blogged about some weeks ago, has been followed by a bunch of very nice records in much the same burbling, kosmische vein.

Apart from the Robert Plant & Alison Krauss CD, I think the album we’ve played most this week has been the debut from Arp, "In Light". Arp seems to be one guy from San Francisco called Alexis Georgopoulos. In the very thorough press notes that came with the promo, there are wise and scholarly references to excellent artists like Dan Flavin and architects like Superstudio, plus a dense notation of musical influences that stretches from Alice Coltrane and early Eno, through Franco Battiato and Takehisa Kosugi.

Terry Riley is also cited, and you can definitely hear traces of luminous work like "A Rainbow In Curved Air" in some of Arp’s work, at once ecstatic and tranquil. The key names, though, are Cluster, Harmonia and "Ralf & Florian"-era Kraftwerk. Georgopoulos is quite brilliant at recreating that hermetic, pulsating sound, oscillating gently between the playful and the peaceful.

And like those artists, while Arp comes dressed with so many intimidating avant-garde references, it’d be a mistake to see "In Light" as forbidding. In fact, it’s a very welcoming and accessible collection.

As is "LP" by Holy Fuck, though for rather different reasons. Holy Fuck are apparently a band of two or so people from Toronto, and judging by their debut, they make hyper-kinetic analogue synth rock that betrays a keen interest in the ur-punk tracks on "Neu! 75". It’s very good fun, too. Holy Fuck seem to be being marketed as part of the whole nu-rave phenomenon, as a sort of dance band for people who are turned off by the prospect of watching stern men with laptops.

They remind me a bit of that Japanese act, Zongamin, who had a bit of hipster traction a few years ago. We were also trying to think of which ‘90s band of the post-rock diaspora they resembled. Trans Am were mentioned, but I think it might be Salaryman, the jerky synth alter-ego of a mediocre guitar band whose name escapes me (I know I should google it, I know. . .).

Anyway, even if it gets a bit old after a while, "LP" is good, bracing stuff. It’s light years away from Arp in terms of aesthetics, but beneath all the ramshackle skronk and fulsome rock posturing, there still beats a heart that’s pure motorik.


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