“LAIK TORS pulls no punches, it just lays it on, and some!” – Alan Freeman, AUDION
“Play this thing over and over because one solitary spin won’t come close to doing it justice—you can go down this disc’s labyrinth of ingenuity for years and hardly ever come up for breath.” – Darren Bergstein, DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY, NYC
Laik Tors is the third album from the Sheffield-based trio. It follows their eponymous debut and follow-up “Adios Al Futuro”, both of which featured in Prog Rock “Top 20” charts and helped establish the band as a vital voice in modern progressive music. Both attracted excellent reviews, neatly summarised by “they seem to encapsulate and deconstruct the entire history of British avant-rock in one fell swoop”.
This new recording is a natural progression, building on and refining their core sound, which features a combination of composed and improvised music. The trio have many overlapping musical influences and a shared love of improvisation. However, it is the melding of their unique individual styles that brings it together within a modern context.
Commentator Sid Smith says: “Is it jazz? Is it rock? Is it folk? Is it prog? Is it electronica? The answer is all of the above and probably a lot more besides. Not that Das Rad care and neither should you. Energetic, incisive and infused with an inquisitive, passionate spirit, Das Rad create music that goes where it needs to. Do what you can to join them on that journey.”
Nick Robinson – guitars, keyboards, electronics
Martin Archer – woodwind, keyboards, synth bass, electronics
Steve Dinsdale – drums, keyboards, electronics
Peter Rophone – choral voices on “Mauger Hay”
Third album from Sheffield’s sonic explorers. Das Rad’s music defies any attempts at strict categorisation. There are nods in various directions of dub, kosmiche, wyrd folk, psych rock and jazz that pull together a sound that’s wonderfully bright and free from any boundaries. On paper it sounds like it should sound experimental in nature, yet Laik Tors remarkably manages to be eminently accessible. That’s an impressive feat that few artists convincingly achieve. Starting out from improvisations and jams, Martin Archer (woodwind, keyboards), Steve Dinsdale (drums, keyboards) and Nick Robinson (guitars, keyboards) have edited the results into tight, highly focussed pieces. Kapow! could double as an 1980s TV cop show theme tune, as widdly synths, punchy saxes and motorik beats thunder along. Robinson’s guitar dominates throughout, burrowing deep into the album’s fabric. Organ. Mellotron, fuzzed-up organ, and washes of echo are expertly harnessed to add texture. In lesser hands, it might have sounded a touch retro but Das Rad make it all about the here and now. – Sid Smith, PROG
Unsure what the album title means, but from its cryptogrammic font type and the six-pointed star framing a solitary treetop at dusk, it’s pretty certain your ears are in for a wild, proggy ride. On Das Rad’s third outing, Nick Robinson (guitars, keys, electronics), Martin Archer (woodwinds, keys, synth bass, electronics), and Steve Dinsdale (dumrs, electronics) further solidify their position as the UK’s best kept secret, but a crime it would be indeed if that secret was kept much longer. Partially improvised, partially composed, the whole damn enterprise is so densely woven together only a forensic audiologist would be able to (possibly) untangle all its knotty, intricate components. Das Rad’s music combines so many disparate categorical elements, be it prog, fusion, avant-gardisms, electronica, etc., they’re practically their own self-minted genre. Don’t know where you’d file ‘em in your local record shop but they sure need to occupy some prime real estate on your home shelf. Over another dazzling hour-plus of radically invented music, they manage to effortlessly cruise through, abort, and reshape the sounds of eras both bygone and yet to come. Dinsdale’s booming traps help to set alight the Richard Wright-esque keys and Gilmourian guitar refrains of “Offtwerk”, though such Floydian shades of pink are refracted through a prismatic lens of haughty Canterbury and chugging krautrock; the surging mellotrons about halfway through effect a total recall of early 70s British prog nicely, too. “Lebensmude” sharply turns things on its collective ears, its rhythmic martial surge an exercise in delayed gratification as pure, escapist tangerine dreams arise first out of elliptical keyboard effects smudged by Archer’s klaxon fuzz. His shouts into the wilderness coalesce mightily across the lengthy tendrils of the title track, Dinsdale’s tips, taps, twinkles, and twirls basking in spooky moonlight amidst strange atmospherics and the kind of wholesale free jazz/spacerock that wouldn’t be out of place on a lost Amon Düül side. Play this thing over and over because one solitary spin won’t come close to doing it justice—you can go down this disc’s labyrinth of ingenuity for years and hardly ever come up for breath. – Darren Bergstein, DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY, NYC
Das Rad’s Laik Tors is their third album in four years and in a way continues their charge into the outer reaches of what a trio can produce when giving full rein to their imagination. Spread across one hour and nine tracks, not only do they veer between heavy rhythmic workouts and less dynamic, more textural numbers, but the pieces themselves often start out in one direction before ending up somewhere else entirely. Vaporous keys and flute engage with a sinuous rhythm on opener “Offtwerk” and it dances off with a kind of proggy jazz feel, the rhythmic sturdiness supplemented by electronic whispers. Nick Robinson‘s guitar soloing is supple, dropping out and switching places with spiralling keyboards when you least expect it. There is a looser section where the sounds warp and find themselves dragged into a maelstrom of sound, before easing out the other side like a white-water raft. There is a nice antithesis between one track and the next on this album, as if one were a reaction to the preceding. “Satanic Particles” is all bending and time-warping of sounds as spectral electronics hover in the background, with electric piano lending an air of gentleness to a haphazard chase, while the quasi-medieval string sounds of “Kapow!” come on a little like a spy theme. There is a a circular insistence led by the woodwind and a simple but effective rhythmic drive that uses space to lend an air of tension before the search for an exit leads to an explosive climax; and all this in just the opening three tracks. The battle between structureless interplay and rhythmic heft is played out across the album. The synth bass of “Lebensmude” appears as if from a post-rock mist, everything in a dew-covered and morning-lit Explosions In The Sky territory in which they firmly stake their claim, before hauling it into an effects-laden crevasse, fuzzed and whacked. “Kopfkino” hints at ancient battles long finished, the crying ranks of guitar ascending from an acoustic guitar and flute intro; while once again I am reminded of Trans Am in the night territory of “Mauger Hay”, its glistening synth glory scrapping with growling guitar and cold urban electronics. Laik Tors is a dizzying array of ideas and experiments that lead the listener all over the map with little respite. The tribal jaggedness and otherworldly drift of the title track is another unexpected avenue, nipping ghosts of electronics and fractured synths unleashing a guitar shred that seems to come from nowhere. It does feel over too soon, as if they still have a million ideas to unleash and the euphoric feeling that overrides the closing track warms the cockles, its spiralling sax and murky bob and weave highlighting the returning motif; while the real secret is the subtle percussion keeping below the radar but always there, ready for anything. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ http://freq.org.uk/
Out of Sheffield, UK comes DAS RAD, and Laik Tors is their 3rd album so far. The band is formed around NICK ROBINSON (guitars, keys, electronics), MARTIN ARCHER (woodwind, keys, synth bass, electronics) and STEVE DINSDALE (drums, keys, electronics). Although I mentioned somewhere in a review of another DISCUS MUSIC release that the label owner’s Martin usually goes for complete free improvisation jazz direction on the albums where he plays himself, the DAS RAD album on which he plays is going for a slightly different direction. It still is complex and touches jazz here and there for sure (Satanic Particles), it rocks just a bit more and actually feels like an interesting complex instrumental progressive rockalbum with free style jazz parts. It sounds modern for sure, sometimes (post-) prog ish (Kapow!), yet with a 70s jazz-fusion touch for sure like we could hear almost 50 years ago when acts like WEATHER REPORT and BILLY COBHAM released some really adventurous music. On the other hand a song like the electronic Lebensmude reveals pure Krautrock/Synthwave ish influences, kinda like KRAFTWERK meets MAGIC SWORD. It’s hard to just label a certain direction to DAS RAD, because the 9 included songs are very diverse, so open-minded prog, jazz and modern music fans definitely need to check out this original album. – Gabor Kleinbloesem, STRUTTER’ZINE
The mood of the music and the ways in which the electronic effects distort and deepen the sensory experience of listening to (perhaps a better phrase might be participating in) the tunes are both unsettling and immersive. ‘Kopf Kino’ (track 5), which I think means something like ‘head cinema’ (although I’m not entirely sure what this means, perhaps something like the mind’s eye or more literally a movie that is running inside your imagination?) hints at a folk tune (gently guitar, flute) but this becomes saturated in layers of effects that pulls it off course in the middle section before the theme returns the same but changed. ‘Mauger Hay’ (track 6) works the sort of motoric drumming favoured by German bands from the ‘70s with fuzzy guitar and synth lines. On the one hand this suggests a gleeful juxtaposition of images and ideas. On the other, the title ‘Lebensmude’, there is a hint at something darker at work here. On this track (as on several of the others here), there are many musical tropes that you would expect in horror movies, with shimmering whistles and gently undulating rhythms that are set to disturb and disorientate. But, as in previous Das Rad recordings, there is also a strong measure of dub reggae and prog-rock mixed in a style which is uniquely their own and always entertaining. – Chris Baber, JAZZ VIEWS
Fleißig ist man in Sheffield. Ein gutes Jahr nach dem Erscheinen von “Adios Al Futuro” legen Das Rad im Oktober 2021 ihr drittes Album vor. Nick Robinson, Martin Archer und Steve Dinsdale nannten ihr neues Werk “Laik Tors”, was, wie man von Bandseite mitteilt, im Dialekt von Yorkshire ‘Murmelspiel’ bedeutet. Hallende Sounds von in Klangschalen rollenden Murmeln gibt es auch in der Tat im Titelstück zu hören. Wieder hat das Trio einen gutgefüllten Tonträger abgeliefert. Die CD ziert diesmal eine Nachbildung des rosa Labels von Island Records (allerdings mit einem d statt einem i), mit dem z.B. die ersten LP-Ausgaben von z.B. King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer und If, zumindest in Großbritannien, versehen waren. Dreht man die CD-Hülle um, ist unten links das Logo von Fontana Records zu sehen, allerdings hat ‘discus’ den Schriftzug ‘fontana’ ersetzt. Zwei Hommagen an vergangene Progtage, aber auch Hinweise auf die auf “Laik Tors” zu findende Musik. Wie schon auf den beiden Vorgängern haben Das Rad eine bunte Mischung am Start, die Retroprog, Jazzrock, modernen Instrumentalprog, Avantrock und freieres Klangbasteln zu einem homogenen Ganzen vereinigt. Voluminös produziert wogt die Musik voran, bietet mal frei-jazzige Improvisationen, mal abwechslungsreichen Progrock, mal ambientartiges Tonbasteln, mal kantige Rockexkurse, mal dynamischen Jazzrock, mal kernigen Avantprog. Plingende, schneidende und hallende E-Gitarren, wogende E-Pianolinien, satte Mellotronschübe, allerlei Gebläse (inklusive Blockflöte), verschiedene elektronische Verunreinigungen und frei-wuselnde bis dynamisch rockende perkussive Muster arbeiten sich hier dicht vermengt voran. Stickprog bzw. die rezentere Musik von King Crimson lugt bisweilen um die Ecke und ein paar Canterbury-Reminiszenzen lassen sich bisweilen ausmachen, doch haben Das Rad alles in allem ein sehr eigenes Gemenge am Start. Einen modernen, virtuos vorgetragenen Elektrojazzprog bieten Das Rad auf “Laik Tors”, der die Inspirationsquellen nicht verleugnet bzw. denselben immer mal wieder kurz huldigt, ansonsten aber das Genre durch eigene und sehr überzeugende Progvariante bereichert. Wer erstklassigen zeitlosen Prog hören möchte, keine Aversionen gegen freiformatige Einlagen, elektronische Verzerrungen und etwas Jazz hat und auf Gesang verzichten kann, die/der sollte das Trio aus Sheffield auf keinen Fall verpassen. Ich würde fast sagen, dass “Laik Tors” das bisher rundeste und beste Album des Projekts ist. – Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN http://www.babyblaue-seiten.de/album_19871.html#oben
Archer dreht aber weiterhin selber am Rad und offeriert mit Laik Tors (Discus 119) die dritte Scheibe mit DAS RAD, dem Improg-Trio mit Nick Robinson an Guitars, der nach einer jungwilden Phase mit They Must Be Russians in den 80ern seit den 10er Jahren ein Frühlingserwachen auskostet als Nick Robinson Loops und in Lost Garden mit Andy Peake. Vitaler als dieses Ambient-Duo ist der Zusammenklang mit Steve Dinsdale an Drums und Archer an Woodwind & Synth Bass, wobei alle drei noch mit Keyboards & Electronics operieren. Ihre Ikonographie ist zweideutig, weil sie offen lässt, ob sie mit dem Hexagramm einen teuflischen Knecht Ruprecht rufen oder bannen, ob sie struwwelpetrig den Kindern Angst machen oder im Gegenteil zum Spielen mit Rasierklingen anstiften und mit dem Smoke of Hell verführen. Mit ‘Kapow!’ und ‘Kaprise!’ stoßen sie jedenfalls ein ‘Kopfkino’ an, in dem ‘Satanic Particles’ ‘Lebensmude’ wieder munter machen. Dabei gehen sie ziemlich feierlich an ihr ‘Offtwerk’, als hymnischer Triskel mit Synthbasspuls und Archer als halbem Blasorchester, mit Jazzcorekakophonie, Bockshufen, krummen Tönen und Takten. Zartbesaitetes kreiselt zu stürmischen Fanfaren, Synthi- und Gitarrensound wird von den Keys bezwitschert. In diesem Hexeneinmaleins meint 3 dreimal 3, Menschenwerk und diabolischen Beitrag, der schillernd und klirrend jede Müdigkeit vertreibt, der Dinge ins Rollen bringt. Mit unverdrossenem Beat, melodieseligem Sog, von der Gitarre überflackerter Lava, fragilen Reminiszensen an Folklore, mit Flöte und Baritonsax, akustischer und Trillergitarre, Glockenspiel und psychedelisierender Intensität. ‘Mauger Hay’ groovt eine rockige Furche, melodicamelodisch und in brummiger Wallung, mit gitarristischem Vortex und kindlichem Geistergesang. Das Titelstück bringt dünnen Sopranosound und findet durch perkussive und elektronische Turbulenzen und verzerrtes Gitarren- und mächtiges Orgelpathos zu einem Trommelmarsch. ‘Starvation Hound’ als finaler Long-Track zieht dann nochmal alle üppigen Register, mit Fuzzgitarre, Knurrbass, höchsten und hymnischen Multi-Saxtönen und auch wieder Georgel in prächtiger Spannweite und krassem Finish von Robinson. Kapow! – Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY
A mixture of composed and improvisational music Das Rad is Nick Robinson (guitars, keyboards, electronics), Martin Archer (brass, woodwinds, synths, synth bass, electronics) and Steve Dinsdale (drums, keys, electronics). A good entry point would be the rocky ‘Kapowl’ which features some sterling sax and synth work, although the atmospheric 10 minute ‘Lebensmude’ might give a better idea of what the band is all about, slow-burning expressionism with its subtle guitar and rolling drums. It’s all about the ambience as on ‘Kopfkino’ as Das Rad build on basic melodies later taken up by acoustic guitar arpeggios, to create a palette of rich sounds, Robinson’s guitar blazing away in the background, woodwinds and sax driving the piece on, the drummer’s role often necessarily understated gelling it together with prominent synth bass lines, a few humorous exchanges thrown in as the music moves into free jazz fusion mode. The stop-start motoric beat of ‘Mauger Hay’ is a nice change of pace and the sustained organ chords supplement the probing guitar lines well on the title piece. ‘Laik Tors’ is a challenging and quixotic but ultimately satisfying album that will appeal to lovers of more adventurous forms of music. – Phil Jackson, ACID DRAGON
Today is the opportunity to present the third album of DAS RAD, entitled “Laik Tors”, the same that was published on August 25 by the British label Discus Music, specialized in disseminating avant-garde proposals of various trends. DAS RAD is an association of three veteran musicians with great personalities who know how to articulate their performative and creative energies very well within an experimental and eclectic framework where the paths of avant-prog, contemporary jazz based on free forms, electronics and krautrock-inspired psychedelia cross. The three members are Nick Robinson [guitars, keyboards and electronic resources], Martin Archer [saxophones, clarinet, recorder, keyboards, bass synthesizer and electronic resources] and Steve Dinsdale [drums, keyboards and electronic resources]. In one of the songs of this album Appears as a guest Peter Rophone with his contributions of choral arrangements. DAS RAD began its days in 2018 with a self-titled album that was succeeded two years later by “Adiós Al Futuro” (so, in Spanish). “Laik Tors” is an album that fully shows the leitmotiv of the group as a musical entity that knows how to reinforce its avant-garde essence continuously while expanding its eclectic resources and exploring new paths of expression with respect to those embodied in the predecessor works. Well, let’s now look at the details of the repertoire contained in it. The repertoire of the album that now concerns us begins with ‘Offtwerk’, a song that lasts just over 7 minutes and a quarter. Its cadentious swing and its moderate way of handling the density with which it wraps the harmonic bases refer us to a great hybrid of TORTOISE and PENGUIN CAFE ORCHESTRA with added edges of post-rock nuance. To a large extent, it is the winds who assume a more proactive approach when it comes to modeling and establishing the ornaments that are assembled along the way. Around the border of the fourth and a half minute there is an increase in expressive tension, but it is only the preamble to an epilogue where a twilight spirit predominates, an epilogue where the initial groove is covered with nebulous restlessness. The second theme of the repertoire, which holds the challenging title of ‘Satanic Particles’, focuses on an exercise in abstract deconstructions where the interconnections made possible by the instruments are putting together Dadaist subtleties that, to a certain extent, flirt with the gloomy, but also exhibit a genuine musculature. In fact, this musculature allows this expansion of sonic signals that renounce forms to consistently preserve its heterodox manifestation. With the duo of ‘Kapow!’ and ‘Lebensmude’, the trio focuses on exploring a more diverse batch of musical environments and resources. The first of these mentioned themes establishes a vitalist cross of krautrock machacón and avant-prog of RIO tendency, something like an unprecedented twinning between NEU!, MASSACRE and THE MUFFINS (early 80s), a very effective twinning. There is a captivating mix of dreaminess and drama in the thematic development that takes place here. The second of these themes, on the other hand, turns towards a strategy of cosmic traces where the guitar scraps and synthesizer layers are entangled to assemble the central core of the piece. Once the drums establish a recognizable groove in jazz key in certain strategic passages, the sound block is pristinely oriented towards a confluence of contemporary jazz and progressive psychedelia. The final section is notoriously deconstructive, assuming a larger claw dose than the second piece of the album had. We notice confluences with the paradigms of FIRE! and MORAINE, in addition to the most ethereal facet of the Crimsonian pattern of the beginning of the millennium. We have enjoyed two decisive zeniths of the album in perfect succession. The fifth track of the album is entitled ‘Kopfkino’ and since its inception leaves clear evidence that the time has come to put on the table the warmest and most introspective cards of the DAS RAD deck. On the basis of the acoustic guitar, the ephemeral ornaments of the recorder pose a brief pastoral channeling, but soon everything drifts towards a prog-psychedelic scheme that flirts moderately with the post-rock paradigm. The alternations between guitar and saxophone solos and the appearances of keyboard layers sometimes serve to indicate latent anxiety beneath the reigning warm landscape, and other times they operate as capitalization resources for a ceremoniously mysterious framing. For the epilogue, the piece recovers the form of central motif and takes up some pastoral elements once abandoned. Quite a beautiful subject, it should be said. When it is the turn of ‘Mauger Hay’, the group prepares to resume the stately dense vitality that previously marked the opening theme, being so that now the rock muscles feel increased. Two-thirds of the way, everything is momentarily interrupted to make way for an exotic chant, but the disciplined pulsations of the bass synthesizer guarantee that soon the palace punche will return to take over the situation. The seventh piece of the album is the one that precisely gives title to the album and settles another culminating moment of the same based on an exercise of reactivation of the respective legacies of TANGERINE DREAM (69-72), FRIPP & ENO and ASH RA TEMPEL. Indeed, ‘Laik Tors’ is built with futuristic textures, the same ones that group floating atmospheres that combine the candor of the dream and the intensity of the inscrutable within a minimalist scheme wrapped by a very delicate psychedelic exuberance. The emergence of the battery, bent on imposing a martial compass, adds a strange agility to such an overwhelmingly lysergic affair. The short piece ‘Kaprise!’ is a short progressive exercise that pleasantly surprises us with its openly lyrical tonalities. Although it only lasts a minute and a quarter, its coloring leaves a strong imprint on the memory of the empathetic listener. Occupying a space a little larger than 10 minutes and a quarter, ‘Starvation Hound’ stands as the most extensive piece of the repertoire and, incidentally, is also responsible for closing it. The central strategy of this piece is to take up the pending task of the most cadentious passages of ‘Lebensmude’ and cover them with space-rock ornaments that pass through the sophisticated filters of contemporary jazz-rock and avant-prog. This plethoric moment of the repertoire (one of many) bets on finding expressive vigor and exuberance in a twilight and ceremonious terrain, so that the end of the album invokes a sequence that goes from the contemplation of dusk to the abandonment to the dreams that the nocturnal tranquility gives us. All of this was what the talented DAS ROD ensemble gave us with “Laik Tors,” an album that perfectly illustrates the kind of extravagant and strangely captivating magic that avant-garde progressive music possesses when it explores its eclectic potential with zeal and intelligence. Very, very highly recommended this album… 300%, one hundred for each of the geniuses involved in its gestation. – César Inca, AUTOPOIETICIAN
Whereas their previous two albums were both surprising and promising, this third Das Rad album truly delivers the goods. Here they’ve laid-on innovation and new ideas throughout, on top of their established style, and in some parts they’ve got a lot weirder too. The nine tracks run from the almost trendy sounding vibrant fusion of the opening track Offtwerk, through to the deranged Lard Free meets King Crimson in “Thrakattak” mode of Satanic Particles, and then goes elsewhere again. Kapow! kind of does that, upbeat and vibrant, it runs through a number of changes, returning to where it started. I won’t go through all the tracks here, except to say you also get abstract pieces, some lazy and spacey jazz and other concoctions that don’t fit in any pigeon hole that I could put them in, and then there’s the manic grunge jazz stoner of Starvation Hound, that then turns spacey and twists in all manner of directions to end the album with a crazed guitar freak-out! LAIK TORS pulls no punches, it just lays it on, and some! – Alan Freeman, AUDION https://audion1.bandcamp.com/
Laik Tors is Das Rad’s third album. Having reviewed their previous album, Adios Al Futuro, I was curious to find out how Das Rad has evolved. By the sound of things, where Adios Al Futuro attempted to produce truly extemporaneous musical moments, Laik Tors tries to balance prog conventions with total sonic anomie. “Offtwerk” kicks things off: sets of woodwind instrumentation harmonize so as to provide an intransigent marching tempo according to which the rest of the track can unfurl and fall into rank. A fervid rattle of high-hats signifies a descent into pure expressionism; distorted chuckles ring out as individuals begin to sever themselves from the established rhythmic order. Dead notes redolent of James Chance mark the conclusion of this rhythmic emancipation. “Lebensmude” is a late Talk-Talk track if they had continued to use the synthesizers that typified their New Wave days. Initially, like some noxious miasma, predatory rhythms prowl throughout the mix in the aim of enveloping the spacey synth leads. The track then metastasizes, which it does by way of co-opting more and more instrumentation until some sort of natural limit is reached. Grandiose ambient swells sprawl around ethereal hums waiting for the opportune moment to strike. These first few songs can be thought of as delineating a sonic event horizon. Prior to this point, Das Rad affords the listener safety by means of conventional prog (I use the phrase ‘conventional prog’ very loosely). And, beyond this point, Das Rad spaghettify the listener with puzzling, even quantum, musical states. “Kopfkino” begins the process of spaghettification; for, it acts as a sonic determinable. A delicate plucked melody is determined such that it takes the form of various distinct species, all of which are as captivating as their relatives. The eponymous track, “Laik Tors,” continues what “Kopfkino” began. Stochastic rhythmic flurries usher around industrial, almost musique concrète, spurts. As an unfettered guitar hurls its diatribe at the listener, the hostility of this musical bedlam becomes palpable. Das Rad, through Laik Tors, honor the rules of a genre whilst simultaneously casting them aside. And, in the process of doing this, Das Rad manages to venture into sounds that are truly just a tad weird. Please, keep this group within your earshot. – Thomas Mellish, SQIUDS EAR http://www.squidco.com/cgi-bin/news/newsView.cgi?newsID=2548
Das Rad’s previous and second issue, the very fine Adios Al Futuro only hit the racks some 15 months before this, their third missive, entitled Laik Tors, but what else is there to do during these restrictive times but to lock yourself in your music shed with your two besties and make some see-ree-us racket?! It seems Das Rad consist of three Facebook friends of mine, so I better mind my Ps and Qs. Not that I need worry, as the noises emanating from my own music shed, courtesy of my newly turbocharged and now glorious hi-fi are sequenced in such a way as to take me on a trip through all manner of vertiginous twists and turns along the alternative UK rock music high road less travelled. Starvation Hound had me imagining the sinister croon of a Berlin period David Bowie over the top of it, which goes some way to describing the dark ambience within these zeros and ones. Switching between composed and improvised elements, sometimes obviously, sometimes seamlessly, Laik Tors puts a distinct Deutscherock influence – dig those crazy track titles! – through Nick Robinson’s tumultuous spacerock chops, via Martin Archer’s leftfield and deftly skilled jazz blender, all propelled along by Steve Dinsdale’s subtle and/or driven rhythmic heft. The suitably languid feel to Lebensmude becalms the listener, all energy ebbed away, its ten or so minutes drifting into Kopfino, which in its latter half features some sublime woodwind from Martin. Mauger Hay is driven by Steve’s motorik pulse, and the impression gained so far is of a more considered work than Adios…, or of being cast further out of reach of Earth’s orbit. Indeed, the title track floats through Kosmische debris, synth patches and keyboard drones aplenty, bearing some semblance to early Tangs. This is not a bad thing. This rarified and quality sonic tonic comes from the attuned vibrations of three like-minded but musically very different souls, united in their quest for the deepest seam of Ur-rock. Along the way, the music they coax out of their instruments and various boxes of electronic jiggery-pokery seems to play them, rather than the other way round. The title track has the otherworldly quality of a Popol Vuh Werner Herzog soundtrack, as it slowly ascends to a state of grace on the back of swirling keys and guitar, and subsonic rumblings, before insistent but subtle snare rolls push it still higher. After the short woodwind-led interlude of Kaprise!, the album closer, a ten-minute lurching and louche thing, sees Nick’s dirty guitar steer the Starvation Hound through a pile of discarded pizza boxes and half empty chip containers semi-concealing comatose revellers carelessly sprawled down the back alleys of our darkest imaginings, as we grab the last hover-taxi back to the dystopia that passes for daily reality. Shrouded in “the smoke of Hell”, we emerge, strangely tingling, but oddly Norman. – Roger Trenwith, THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECT
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