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Ckid / Gaston | Crashkid Went There / #1 (Becalmed Records)
'Crashkid Went There' only we have no idea how quickly he reached his destination. For this suffers the way of much electronica these days in that there is no playing speed to be found either on the sleeve or record itself. With the absence of vocals there is no handy helium-pitched pointer, so the listener just has to guess, 331/3rpm or 45rpm? Like Russian Roulette only without the stakes, so utterly thrill-less... Be sure, whichever speed you do decide upon, within seconds of settling into your favourite chair, you will be back up on your feet to change it again. You see the gently plucked guitar in the introductory bars of Noomoon resonates perfectly at 331/3 and yet the rest of the track sounds awkwardly laboured. And Something Like Chocolate is clearly too slow at 331/3, sounding like the batteries on your Walkman are running low, only you're listening to a record on your turntable and its running off the mains... So you plump for 45, but your ears have adjusted to the slower pace, so Was Happy ends up sounding like some cartoon theme tune. Grrr!!! When you finally get it cracked however, your dogged perseverance is richly rewarded (and your heartburn swiftly extinguished) by wave after gentle wave of warm, soothing electronica; of the sort that would not be bullied or shunned by the likes of, say, Isan or E*vax for being, uh, different. Laid back and (deservedly) relaxed, sweet loving melodies dripping with analogue synths and melodica, this could be the sound of (what's left of) your summer. On the back sleeve Ckid (aka Rene Margraff) informs us that "no laptops were harmed" and it's easy to believe. For you can imagine that were any laptops involved in this recording then Ckid would send them off on a weeklong holiday somewhere nice and sunny to recuperate, rather than harm them...
Berlin/Hamburg trio Gaston, on the other hand, deliver five prime cuts of post rock (get it?), or is it math rock? (Judging from the geeky-looking kid on the sleeve, gazing ponderously out of a train window, contemplating Pythagoras' theory and the spot on his cheek, I'd guess the latter). Whatever it may be, the aptly titled '#1' is a fine debut record, blessed with some of the sweetest notes ever to roll off four strings and a groove so big you could lose yourself in it. With two basses, a little vibes, and a whole lotta tight-ass drumming it is clearly reminiscent of Tortoise, though there's also the odd glimpse of a mightily restrained and focused Storm 'n' Stress poking through the cracks... Like a new breed of jazz, this is music born of the most competent and disciplined players, twisting and turning themselves inside out until their hearts are clearly visible. At times â?? as on Beauty No.1 â?? it is so precise that it is hard to imagine it being created by flesh and blood and yet it always remains so damn soulful. If you were to score this, it would probably look a right cluttered mess - as complicated and foreign to an untrained eye, as the calculations of some mathematical genius, feverishly scrawled upon a chalkboard. And yet somehow, like the music itself, undeniably beautiful.
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002