Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  Christian Kleine  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

This is, apparently, the second album from Deustcher Christian Kleine, who is also one-half of the duo Hermann und Kleine. I picked it up for that connection (having been impressed enough with what little i have heard of his duo work), but also, well, because Valis also happens to be the name of the novel wherein Philip K. Dick describes his descent into schizophrenia. You might know Philip K. Dick as the sci-fi genius who crafted the works that Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Total Recall were based on. He is one of my favorite authors, and when i sensed a Dick-Kleine connection, i couldn't resists.

This is not, however, a paranoid album about god communicating with people by beaming pink lasers into their brains. In fact, a little Google-ing reveals that VALIS is an acronym for "Vast Active Living Intelligence System". I dunno exactly what that means, but apparently both Kleine and Dick are into it. Okay, whatever....

This is, however, a pretty decent album. Christian Kleine makes light electronica that seems to fall somewhere between hardcore IDM (a la Autechre), keyboard and beat electronica (a la his countryman Ulrich Schnauss), and pseudo-band electronica (a la fellow Germans Mouse On Mars). It's a fascinating mix, and Kleine does well with it.

Most of the music is obviously keyboard/synthesizer. Additionally, there is guitar strewn about, and it's the use of guitar that makes this disc for me.

Take Boon, the album's opener, for instance. The track starts off with wavering synthesizer tones that hearken back to the glory days of Krautrock (specifically reminding me of Tangerine Dream), which is then joined with a flat sounding drum kit. And then, inexplicably a lovely bass wanders in, sounding like an outtake from a Public Image Limited recording session. It's a wonderful juxtaposition: the glitch of the beat with the solidity of the bass.

The next track, H:Y is a decent Boards of Canada-like tune, and is not too remarkable. Not bad, but not really great either. However, the next number stuns me. It's called Several, and features a really catchy rhythm of light glitch, with mellow wavering guitar that reminds me of something Yelow6 would play. Glitch meets guitar drone: another genre-blending, and very well done.

Red Norvo comes next, and sounds almost like Lanterna with a very mellow echoed guitar riff. It's nice, but unassuming. After this interlude, Kleine kicks it back up a notch with Accent. A chiming keyboard melody tinkles alongside the most stereotypically IDM beats on the whole album. What makes it intersteing is a deep bass noise beneath it all. It's a sound that i am sure is synthesized, but which also honestly reminds me of those "songs of the humpback whales" things you heard in the late 70s. I don't know if Kleine was trying to invoke that sound, but he did so anyway.

Finally, Kleine wraps things up with Unauthorized, which is a nice glitchy tune built out of keys, distorted drum beats, and some kind of crowd cheering noise. It's nice, but surprisingly unoriginal after the last few songs.

Valis clocks in at just over 32 minutes, and in that time Kleine manages to cram in a lot of interesting listening. If you are interested in where electronic music is going these days, i think you need to look to the Germans, who seem increasing innovative. And Kleine is no doubt right up there in the forefront of what the Germans are doing.

Related Links:
  None available.  

Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Album Review menu.