Klaus Johann Grobe

Im Sinne der Zeit

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There is a fine line between parody and tribute, and that sums up Klaus Johaan Grobe's relationship with Krautrock quite nicely. On their debut album, Im Sinne der Zeit, the Swiss duo offer up nine tracks that recall the glory days of keyboard-driven German prog rock with giddy accuracy, as pulsing keyboard patterns float over throbbing basslines and metronomic drumming, and disembodied vocals in German occasionally punctuate the songs. If there's anything here to indicate that this isn't some lost German album from the '70s, it's the occasional nods to the cool sounds of early electronic dance music (especially on "KOthek"), which of course were influenced by the same bands Klaus Johaan Grobe are obsessed with, making for a nice, cultural Möbius strip. It's a bit difficult sometimes to tell if Klaus Johaan Grobe mean this music as a sincere homage or a sly joke (especially if one isn't fluent in German), but it speaks well of Im Sinne der Zeit that it works either way -- the music is polished but alive, with some very human energy behind the button-down attitude, and there's enough funk in the basslines to fill up a dancefloor, where semiotics don't matter as much as the grooves. Even if the accuracy of this re-creation of the golden age of German prog is meant to be tongue in cheek, the execution points to what a lot of folks loved about this stuff, and you have to marvel at the thoroughness of Klaus Johaan Grobe's obsession, especially since this seems to have been done the old-fashioned way, without sequencers or drum machines. Maybe Krautrock didn't need an answer to the Rutles, but it has one now in Klaus Johaan Grobe, and "Les Grecks" is every bit as good on its own terms as "I Must Be in Love," which is a major compliment.

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