Review: On their two previous albums, Automat showcased a hard-to-pigeonhole sound that gleefully fused elements of dub, electronica, krautrock, post-punk and '80s industrial. Ostwest explores similar sonic territory, with the German trio making use of both live instrumentation (electric bass, slack-tuned drums, Fender Rhodes electric piano) and drowsy electronics. The resultant tracks flit between ghostly downtempo soundscapes (see the luscious "Yuko" and dub-wise "Tempelhof") and more energetic, low-slung cuts, with occasional surprises thrown in (see the Afro-tinged tribal workout that draws the album to a close, "Transit"). As usual, it's tricky to pigeonhole, but rarely less than hugely entertaining.
Review: Off The Record sees German label Bureau B offer up a wonderful presentation of music from ex Kraftwerk member Karl Bartos. Apparently originally conceived whilst Bartos was part of the iconic group, these twelve tracks have been fully developed from the musical diary he kept all those years ago. What was initially a secret collection of rhythms, riffs, hooks, chords and melodies have been reconceived and re-contextualised by Bartos in a modern setting and Off The Record should make for compelling listening for the legions of Kraftwerk completists out there. "The Binary Code" stands out, a swooping array of 8bit arpeggios unfurling and taking your senses with you whilst "Musica Ex Machina" is the sort of chugging, busy vocoder led machine funk you'd feasibly hear in a Weatherall back to back set with Smagghe
Review: You'd be forgiven for not knowing much about Fondation, a husband-and-wife duo that released a trio of obscure, hard-to-find cassettes between 1980 and '83. Fortunately, Bureau B is here to help. The Hamburg imprint has put together this excellent retrospective, which showcases best of all three sought-after tapes. What shines through from start to finish is the pairs distinctive style, which casually joined the dots between experimental ambient, kosmiche, avant-garde synth-rock, American minimalism (think Pat Metheny's performance of Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint run through distortion pedals) and drowsy, beat-less psychedelia. It's an arresting and hugely enjoyable collection, all told, and one that should appeal to anyone with an appetite for DIY ambient and lo-fi exotica.