Musiker 2014 / Purple Pyramid 2016
Beyond the motorik, Krautrock’s premier percussionist takes his thunder on a globetrotting trip.
Almost five decades on since their inception, GURU GURU still grow in stature, but sometimes this progress feels too straightforward for the band’s co-founder Neumeier, and Mani’s solo albums find him pushing sonic envelope in many a direction. “Talking Guru Drums” is one of the veteran’s journeys to the rhythmic world’s far reaches that include exciting inroads in the insular grooves of New Zealand and Bali. Yet, rather than transplanting exotic tempos onto Teutonic palette, he’s given them a certain reserve to outline the beauty of a tune and texture which come out of hitting various surfaces.
That’s why “Time Drops” sets things in motion with a great delicacy for Jan Fride’s gamelan to detail a springtime thaw and gentle rattle of branches, and ghostly whisper to crawl in between sparse, if occasionally weighty and eventually gracefully galloping, beats; and that’s why “Im Zaubergarten” emerges as an ethereal abode for Etsuko Watanabe’s mournful voice and musique concrète. Minuscule splashes – alphabetically listed “Jingles” – that seep through lengthy pieces create a sense of wholeness in a patchwork of different patterns, from tribal cymbals and catchy chant of “Shaman Dancer” and intense, albeit unhurried and hypnotic, drive of “Mori No Kaeru” to the meditative, flute-flecked flow of “Om Mani Tom.” Mani’s vision on “Maori Haka News” is augmented by a group of the titular islanders but, surprisingly, it’s here that the track winds up at rock territory, while the silvery “Jingle Shiva-Bells” spins a humorous curlicue to finish this riveting yarn.
A unique conversation, “Talking Guru Drums” may open a door to another dimension for those able to tap into it.