When i first heard about this release, it seemed more like an interesting intellectual experiment than a listenable record. Gute Luft is music composed by Orb member Thomas Fehlmann for a German TV documentary film called 24H BERLIN. For this film, documentary film crews followed the lives of individuals in that city for 24 hours. What type of music would go with that?
The answer is unobtrusive, yet still interesting, mellow Berliner dub is the perfect background music. Who knew? I honestly expected this release to be one of those Orb-related things i get that i listen to a few times and say, "that's ... interesting", and then file it away in the collection. Instead, i find Gute Luft to be musically engaging. It is has an Orb-like sense of whimsy coupled with a crisp German electronica feel to create a release that it is rather pleasant.
It is the cleanness of the electronica that impresses me. Then again, i have been into this stuff a lot of late. There is something in the recording, in the production, that current German artists use which is kind of unique. While UK production is about fuzz and static (and grime), German electronica is about cleanliness. Each sound is clear and distinct, and they layer together, but never fully blend into a mess.
Consider this example. On the tune Permanent Touch, there is a sample of someone snapping their fingers that is used to define the beat. This is not really that uncommon, but on this record, the finger snaps echo in a manner that makes it seem as if the fingersnapper is standing somewhere behind and to the left of the listener, and they are listening to the same song while adding their own element. There is some sense of space to the recording that is very well done, and i find that many German artists do this sort of thing exceedingly well.
Gute Luft is all like that: well-defined samples map out an elaborate listening space. There are many highlights on this record, but let me go over a few.
Wasser im Fluss is a nice Orb-like dub tune. Things clatter at the edges, and in the middle a nice echoing guitar riff soars. Alternately, Fluss im Wasser features a funky beat and some old school synth tunes. Think early Vangelis meets the mellower side of Daft Punk.
Schwerelos builds up a good pace, really stomping a long under a staticy drum hit and some tinkling keys. This tune is kind of dance-y. On the other hand, Scheiben is built out of classical samples. There are long, echoing piano notes strewn about, along with sawing strings, all over a light synth haze. It is rather lovely, if a little lighter than some of the other tunes here.
Basically, if you enjoy the type of mellow electronica that Kompakt has been putting out (and who doesn't?), then Gute Luft is another fine purchase. If you are an Orb fan, don't come to this release expecting a variant on The Dream or U.F.Orb, and you will find that there is much to enjoy here.