Not the Wheel

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Released originally in Poland, and then only as a limited edition, Tarwater's Not the Wheel collects various previously unreleased studio tracks, theater and film score efforts, and demos. At least up to 2004, this has been an album that is hard to track down, and that's rather unfortunate, as it's a fascinating look into the minds of Ronald Lippok and Bernd Jestram. Yes, some of the short instrumental passages feel like fragmentary interludes, but the duo's odds and ends prove to be nearly as interesting as the cuts on their traditional albums. With its constantly morphing electronic effects, heavenly strings, beguiling chimes, throbbing beats, and detached vocals, Not the Wheel is a lush, stylish affair. The duo's trademark tense beats, bubbling and percolating sound effects, and surprising tender melodies are in full effect. If songs like "Plans" and "Tommy Tomorrow" were to be charted on a Venn diagram, the intersection would consist of the Cure's creepy moods, Ennio Morricone's weeping symphonic sweep, Neu!'s mathematic explorations, and Gary Numan's icy vocal delivery. While vocals aren't featured too heavily, those that do appear are as rubbery and ambiguous as ever. This collection isn't a good starting point for new listeners, and it isn't necessarily a vital cog for die-hard fans unless it's in wide release, but it's a solid and often gorgeous sonic sampling of what makes Tarwater so special. It deserves a status beyond that of a limited edition.

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