Thomas Brinkmann: Klick Revolution

Brinkmann says this is "the sound of Sisyphus playing pinball with a rolling stone", which means it is futile to make sense of this album, it is barely musical or listenable... but irresistably intriguing.

Thomas Brinkmann

Klick Revolution

Label: Max Ernst
US Release Date: 2006-12-05
UK Release Date: 2006-11-13

First caveat for those intending to listen to Thomas Brinkmann's new album Klick Revolution: Brinkmann is more artist than musician. He is a sound architect in the narrow definition of the term. Second caveat: this is more structural sound art than music.

Brinkmann fans will of course already know this and among them, he is seen as everything from innovator to genius. He certainly is a darling of the minimalist scene, mainly because he is bent on constant exploration of analogue rather than digital sources. In a sense, Brinkmann has turned musical "objet trouvé" into "objet analysé, puis dechiré", a smashed, ripped torn, dragged, scratched –- and all sampled –- object. He has adopted the technique of physically cutting and slicing in and across the grooves of his vinyl records to create new sounds (albums used for this record are listed in the CD booklet). He picks through minuscule clicks and nano-second bleeps and collages them into tapestries of sound. His minimalism is not one of trimming down to simplicity but rather one of taking elements that are too small to even be minimal and crafting them into something simple but bigger. His musical funnel is upside down. All this adds a strong personality to his recordings, much in the way that Geir Jenssen has done as Biosphere by sampling true nature sounds of icey waterfalls and drips in caves of his native Norway.

Klick Revolution is more stripped-down, distressedly clipped together and much less polished and clinical than any of Brinkmann's previous work. It is a full jump into the analog, yielding sounds and moods dehydrated and crisp, making one think of dried out wood ripe for a dreaded drought-firestorm. It is somewhere between interesting and fascinating and makes you want to analyse and study it. It makes you want to think about it but thought would yield nothing. Klick Revolution is the tentative product of a series of live performances over two years, which have no doubt been experimentally impromptu, but have also made this album musically random, with schizophrenic soundscapes rather than songs. Which may be why Brinkmann presents a concept to try to tie it all together.

He was already conceptual on his breakthrough album Klick, with his sampling of slashed and dusty vinyl. But whilst his clicks, hisses and splutters were thickly layered and unpredictable, they snapped into a somewhat definable dub pattern. On Klick Revolution, that structural base is pulled away and a barren new "concept" takes its place. Brinkmann and his self-started label Max Ernst go to some lengths to explain that it is an idea of a pinball machine, or "a locked box with the inclined plane", a player ponders his "questionary about luck, the slide of the things into the logic of decline". What this means only Brinkmann knows and the sounds on Klick Revolution offer no clues. The gentle punching of the eardrum on opener "Initiation/Locked Box" is broken up by what comes closest to a pinball element, a jumbled rewind-style bonus sound. But through the tearing static sounds peppered with loops of French words, bass drones and occasional disjointed melodic inserts, nothing is revealed.

Many geeks, read fans, will be adamant on blindly appreciating this because, yes, it is one of those conceptual albums that you want to ‘get'. Klick Revolution sounds very intelligent, although no one seems to be able to explain it without resorting to nonsensical phrases. This is the album's strength. It's "the sound of Sisyphus playing pinball with a rolling stone", the label press release proclaims. That certainly does encapsulate the nature of Klick Revolution as a musical piece: the fruitless task of wanting, and trying to makes sense of something that has none. But wanting it nevertheless. Klick Revolution is expertly crafted and very efficient as interesting sound art. It is, however, barely musical and hardly listenable. But for the adventurous listener, the unsolved intrigue of Thomas Brinkmann's music -- now also more unsolvable than ever -- will be hard to resist.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.