Dieter Moebius

Blotch / Nurton

by John Garratt

29 March 2016

Bureau B is here to make sure that Dieter Moebius's solo releases don't get swept under the Cluster/Harmonia rug.
 
cover art

Dieter Moebius

Blotch

(Bureau B)
US: 1 Apr 2016
UK: 25 Mar 2016

cover art

Dieter Moebius

Nurton

(Bureau B)
US: 1 Apr 2016
UK: 25 Mar 2016

Dieter Moebius’s solo career does not make up a bulk of his overall music career. In between his involvement with Cluster/Kluster/Qluster and Harmonia and collaborations with Gerd Beerbohm and Conny Plank, this Swiss-born electronic/musique concrète extraordinaire didn’t manage to make his first true solo album until 1983, followed by a second one, Blotch, just sixteen years later. Nurton, his third album, came after a seven year wait. The long gaps of time notwithstanding, it appeared that Dieter Moebius’s solo career was on a quiet role leading up to his death in 2015 and Bureau B has taken it upon themselves to give these solo albums some renewed exposure. Blotch and Nurton are first on the label’s reissue schedule, picking up on Moebius’s activity around the turn of the century. Both albums represent what krautrock fans have come to expect from one of their knob-twiddlers/button-pushers—polite disregard for the norm while still managing to weave together ear-catching textures that, after a while, becomes as recognizable as any other song.

Blotch features lengthy tracks and a few unorthodox choices in instruments. Nurton contains shorter tracks and is built on the idea that Dieter Moebius isolated a few select “flaws” and turned them into 14 pieces. What these flaws were and how one would differentiate them from the sounds Moebius created intentionally, I do not know. But one thing is for sure—neither of these releases plays out like Tonspuren. The smiling melodies are gone. Dieter Moebius has instead plopped you down in the middle of the industrial wasteland of his mind. Call me crazy, but getting to know this place has been kind of fun.

Blotch‘s format—eight songs in 58 minutes—grants Moebius and mastering engineer Tim Story plenty of space to just stretch out and play around with loops, a saxophone, a miniature piano, and some synthesizer technology that was on the cutting-edge in the late ‘90s. Sinister moment’s like “The Tracker” can recall the days when Gilbert and Lewis gathered together under their Dome, yet dated is one adjective you could never pin to it. “Im Raum”, the album’s longest track at 12 minutes, is a near-ghost town unto itself with sharp, intermittent noises poking from the woodwork to frighten you. This reissue of Blotch comes with an additional track, even though the eight-and-a-half minute “Ballistory” was supposed to have the final word. Now, “Neues” boosts the running time by five minutes with what sounds like a mutant jungle awaking at dawn.

Moebius may have approached Nurton from a different angle than Blotch, but it’s no less abstract or weird. Some of it, like the leadoff track “Anfahrt”, is downright confrontational with its series of jabs that Moebius summoned from God-knows-where. Other passages take the unnervingly passive-aggressive route, like the low-boiling “Born Neo”. Even though Nurton is comparatively more frightening than Blotch, it appears to have the lower hand when it comes to musical stickiness. Blotch may be strange music, but leaves an impression all the same. You have to work harder to allow Nurton to make an impression on you. It’s as if it were all too strange for its own good.

And that’s not a bad problem to have. That lack of any meaty “hooks” as it were acts as a call to a kind of listening challenge. And if you felt that you sort of missed out on Dieter Moebius’s development as a solo artist, Bureau B is now gradually granting you a chance to experience it again. Blotch and especially Nurton are a bit much to take on, but that’s kind of the point of a challenge. Without it, we’re just discussing what we already know.

Blotch

Rating:

Nurton

Rating:

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