Gut und Irmler

500m

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Gut und Irmler is a collaboration with a truly impressive pedigree. Between the two of them, Faust's Hans Joachim Irmler and Gudrun Gut have made some of Germany's most pioneering music within their fields. The way they combine their disciplines -- expansive Krautrock and experimental yet precise techno -- gives 500m's studies in structure and freedom an intriguing tension. The album's sprawling, improvisatory sessions, recorded at Faust's Scheer studio, gave way to meticulous editing at Gut's home base in Berlin. Fortunately, though, it's difficult to tell exactly which methods dominate any given track, since Gut und Irmler combine the most hallucinatory aspects of their music in a flowing balance. Named for the studio's high altitude -- which made Gut dizzy during their sessions -- 500m prepares listeners for the ascent with sketches like the spectral "Mandarine" and the slightly ominous, industrial-leaning "Chlor" (which is echoed later by the hard-edged yet dreamy "Parfum") before the more elevated states that make up the album's highlights. "Noah" nods to kosmiche with droning keyboards and loping beats, with Irmler's distant vocals enhancing its foggy reverie, while the fittingly named "Traum" ("Dream") drifts in on sleigh bells and bar chimes before unfurling into something akin to a more expansive version of Gut's solo music. "Auf und Ab" ("Back and Forth") is another standout, its taut, hypnotic beat alternating between mechanical and erotic underneath a discordant melody and Gut's whispers. Disorienting in the best possible way, at its best 500m moves beyond the cerebral pleasures of two respected yet very different artists combining their powers into more transporting territory.

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