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Justus Köhncke: Safe and Sound

Justus Köhncke: Safe and Sound

Release Date:2008

By Sam Hopkins | Posted 3/5/2008

What is it about German music that lets it change so much but stay the same? The driving synchrony of Krautrock fed electronic advances by Kraftwerk and others. The same strand connects to Justus Köhncke, whose new album, Safe and Sound, channels his country's irrepressible pulse.

This is not necessarily electronic music for dancers--it's more for people waiting on planes or for test results. It's as persistent as it is consistent, marked by steady drum-machine sequences that move forward with the help of melodic synth loops. "$26" is anchored by snare hits that sound like they've been dropped in a digital puddle, squishing along for what sounds like a bit too long--seven of the album's tracks run over six minutes.

"Tilda" scoots along with a trainlike shuffle and, perhaps not accidentally, wraps itself in lingering arpeggios reminiscent of Trans-Europe Express, while "Feuerland" provides a warped window to Köhncke's other local influences by bringing a new beat to a Michael Rother Krautrock classic. "Parage" is the most disco-worthy turn here, carrying strong string sweeps over hopping keyboards, and challenging you to mix out with one crescendo after another.

Köhncke isn't wrangling expensive analog monsters here; they're inside his laptop, an everywhere machine packed with sounds he can piece together anywhere. These beats have a lightness, too, making them as pleasant to focus on as it is to have on in the background.

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