Review: Datashock – Keine Oase in Sicht

(2 x LP, Dekorder, May 2014)

Among some of the freewheeling psychedelic folk/rock collectives on the scene the German open-ended collective Datashock seem to be one of the stronger forces in shaping the direction in which all the other forest elves should be going. With Keine Oase in Sicht (translated as “No Oasis in Sight”), a lengthy and drawn-out desert folk workout claiming a double vinyl from Dekorder, the same forward-looking label that brought Ensemble Economique or Scuplture to the world, which is always a good thing. Datashock already proved themselves with previous stellar LPs, 2011’s behemoth Pyramiden von Gießen, so with the new release the stakes are high. And Datashock jump through those stakes with ease and bliss.

Since they’re from Germany and they’re a communal, open-ended group with members changing and rotating it’s not hard to think of Datashock as the modern-day incarnation of Amon Düül I or II (or both). The krautrock atmosphere abounds and one of the major explosions of motorik energy comes early in the album, at the end of the opening piece “Mudschahidin der Liebe”, in which they sound more like Agitation Free. Desert themes prevail on the album, reflected both in the music and the track titles as well as the artwork of the album, with a bunch of colorful, strange individuals standing among the dunes. I like to imagine that they’re actually standing near some mine or a huge foundry or at a construction site of a new autobahn and that behind the clear skies are the roaring machines and complicated pipelines with a lovely smell of kraurockish Diesel fuel filling the air. In the meantime, the listeners are invited into the desert tribes’ tents, where the air is filled with spices and incense and the endless winds shape the dunes. Tracks like “Keine Oase in Sicht” are such cinematic, slow-paced spectacles, slowing the pace and taking the path somewhere between early Popol Vuh and less occult-oriented Silvester Anfang. Most jams here are kept in these areas: excursions into the tribal life, re-imaginations of traditional, early music of the desert people augumented with electronics and occasional lonesome drones or distant walls of soaring synths a’la early Klaus Schulze.

However, there are some exceptions from the rule, occasionally springing the listener up in their chair and providing a much-welcome (in the context of such a lengthy album) change of direction. Like the strangely retro-futuristic improv piece “Ekstase der Wahrheit”, which sounds like Peter Brötzmann soloing over a piece of 80’s John Carpenter soundtrack. Or the space-tinged jazz fusion of “Her mit dem Kelch, (das) hier muss es sein”, gradually turning into post-punk dancefloor killer, which kinda sounds like Gang of Four getting high on cheap weed instead of getting drunk on cheap wine. Interestingly enough, even with the most far-out pieces Datashock don’t lose their inherently “Eastern” sound, reeking of sunburned stones and sand. And for the proper bliss-out, the ending burner “Vor den Toren von Gewas” provides a 13-minute foray journey into the self, a hasheeshian meditation with gentle guitar licks and even gentler tape loops.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=4276384366/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=none/transparent=true/

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