Bohren & der Club of Gore

Geisterfaust

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The doom rock card, the lounge jazz card, and the slow crawl card have all been played by various reviewers to describe Bohren & der Club of Gore's unique form of instrumental music. None of them has ever truly fit the band, and now even less than ever with Geisterfaust (Ghost Fist), their fourth effort, released three years after Black Earth. Even slower and more stripped down than before, the music loses its doom-laden atmosphere and becomes something eerily similar to the Necks' then-recent efforts, namely Aether and Mosquito/See Through. The stretches of silence, the resonating chords, the cyclical melodic developments, and the paradoxical atmosphere of tension (what will happen next?) and relaxation (it is, after all, extremely smooth music, no need to be so tense) all point to the Australian trio a thousand times more than anyone on the roster of Ipecac, the label that reissued Black Earth to worldwide attention a year before Geisterfaust came out. Then again, people who followed Bohren's (d)evolution from doom metal to minimal jazz-something will not be surprised by this new step. Some will find it lacking some punch, but given a few listens, it grows on you, especially thanks to the 20-minute "Zeigefinger" and the 12-minute "Mittelfinger," both masterpieces of subtle, disquieting nothingness. The concluding "Kleiner Finger" is the real shocker: a pure jazz ballad, with a full beat (i.e., with both a downbeat and an upbeat, instead of only cues) and a sultry sax solo. And so the most conventional piece becomes the oddest-sounding one. One can't see where Bohren can go from here, but in the meantime, Geisterfaust makes a very unusual and fine listen, even though most of their fans will agree that it's not their strongest release.

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