Hans-Joachim Irmler

Life Like

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In his liner notes, Ralf Bei der Kellen explains that Hans Joachim Irmler sees Life Like like a fictional "biography in sound," a "path through a life." Both expressions are too cumbersome; they drag too many lame conceptual albums, too many references to new age music, and condition too firmly the listener's approach to the album. Life Like doesn't need pretentious claims. It stands very well on its own. Irmler's first solo album, it offers -- finally -- a chance to dissect Faust's sound into one of its constituent parts. The back cover lists no credits, so the listener is left guessing, but it is obvious that most of the music originates from Irmler's keyboards, especially his modified organs. Some Faust fans may find it lacking in rhythm (there isn't any) or song structures (there aren't any). What is there is the grinding of a Leslie cabinet, the distinctive growl of overdistorted organ clusters, the fleeting bird-like high-note motifs. They are moving around from left to right, joined by various "real-life" recordings: rainstorms, traffic, exotic celebrations. Irmler pays close attention to texture and to a certain form of storytelling -- once again, don't stick to the "biographical" theme, make up your own story. Each track is the result of an accretion process paired to a sound collage approach. Occasionally, and especially halfway through the album, melodies reach the sonic surface and gracefully float away. But for the most part Life Like proposes dense textures of organs, electronics, and field recordings. It makes for an absorbing -- if at first uneasy -- listen that often takes you through beautiful soundscapes.

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