Von Spar - Under Pressure - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Von Spar - Under Pressure

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2019-05-10
Von Spar - Under Pressure
Von Spar - Under Pressure

Electro music these days is crowded with musicians attempting to go through the motions and simply copy/paste what Krautrock and Eighties British trailblazers did. No real thought process, no real quality music. After all, it is really hard to thoughtfully and purposefully use the elements set out by the likes of Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Cabaret Voltaire and The Human League for that matter. The likes of Daft Punk, Air, LCD Soundsystem, Stereolab or Mouse on Mars are really hard to come by.

Add Cologne, Germany core quartet Von Spar to that list, something that is really confirmed by their fifth album “Under Pressure,” not counting their Can tribute recorded live with Stephen Malkmus. I say ‘Core' quartet, because Sebastian Blume, Jan Philipp Janzen, Christopher Marquez, and Phillip Tielsch use yet another modern technology term, interface for a modular system as a concept - they constantly invite collaborators to bring in new elements and variation to their music.

This time around it is Eiko Ishibashi (Kafka's Ibiki, Jim O'Rourke, Merzbow), Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, with Vivien Goldmann, R. Stevie Moore, and Chris A. Cummings. Usually, such collaborations can spell disaster, with the guest participants overshadowing the core band, or sounding completely out of place, but Von Spar are able to make exactly the right mixture, with Chis A. Cummings, aka Marker Starling shining throughout particularly on “Better Late” and “Not To Forget”.

No less impressive are Laetitia Sadier on “Boyfriends”, Vivien Goldman on the dubby, early Gang of Four-like “Boyfriends (Dead or Alive)”, and even DIY king R. Stevie Moore sounds like he truly belongs on “Falsetto Giuseppe”.

Still, the key lies in the music and the whole concept Von Spar lay down - yes, it is all elements that have existed in electro before, but Von Spar seems to spread the pieces like a puzzle on their studio console and then arrange them in an imaginative way, making it sound fresh and original (re: “Falsetto Giuseppe”).

And yes, the album title is taken from that David Bowie/Queen collaboration, with Von Spar giving it a current social/political undertones. It took them five years to come with “Under Pressure” after their previous album, but it was certainly worth the wait.

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