Brand Neu! You’re Retro: ‘Head RUSH’ reviewed

❉ Fruits de Mer Records’ latest release shows that motorische music remains absolutely vital today.

 When I’m not reviewing music for We Are Cult, I occasionally write Sherlock Holmes novel for Titan. These books are part of a series of similar novels in which the aim is to create Holmes adventures as close in feel as possible to the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories. So, unlike Sherlock, Elementary, Enola Holmes and those Robert Downey Jr. movies, there’s no modern day tech, no steampunk and, most definitely, no new members of the Holmes family. Fans of these books call them pastiches which, on the face of it, sounds a bit of a dig – pastiche, as a word, has a ring of slavish imitation about it, after all – but it’s not really. It’s meant affectionately by readers, and even though the writer’s goal is to be as close to ACD’s style as possible, there’s still very nearly the same space for creativity as there would be in any other historical novel.

I mention all of this because the latest release from the always reliable Fruits de Mer Records, Head RUSH, is a triple LP (plus bonus CD) collection of tracks inspired by the sounds created by the legendary German motorische bands of the 1970s – a series of musical pastiches of the likes of Can, Neu!, Harmonia, and Cluster. And, like the Sherlock Holmes pastiches, the mark of real success here is the creation of something with the feel of those Krautrock giants, but with some new element added by the modern musicians.

Before getting onto the highlights, though, it’s worth pointing out the sheer scale of this release. With 22 tracks sprawled (and sprawled is the right word – one track is a gargantuan 30 minutes long!) across six sides of vinyl, plus an additional cd of music that, in the words of Fruit de Mer themselves, ‘arrived late, didn’t quite fit the overall theme or wouldn’t fit onto vinyl’, this is a substantial package, and the range of bands on show reflect that. There’s better known bands (to me, anyway) like The Lost Stoned Pandas and Moon Goose, and ones I at least have never heard of – but there’s not a bad track on show here, and some of the lesser known names produce the most magical music.

So…highlights (it’d be a bit mad, and a bit long to do every single track)…

The opener, by Giacomo & Carolina and called Sunrise, Part 7 is a fitting way to start, with massive Neu! vibes throughout, and the double whammy of Moon Goose (Shiny Man) and relative newcomers Oslo Tapes (Obsession Is The Mother Of All) at the start of the second LP is fantastic, but for me the entire third album, with four long tracks, beginning with those lost stoned pandas (Motorik Wah Nine), and followed by Motor!k (Tyrants), Culto al Qondor (Ei) and Psychic Lemon (Jam 7) is the high spot – 40 minutes of bliss, and in Tyrants by Motor!k, the most pure example of a modern motorik beat you’ll hear this year.

But look out too, for Icarus Peel, with a real guitar masterclass, reminiscent of Popul Vuh but continuing in a direct line from that legendary band through the likes of The Durutti Column and Six Organs of Admittance to show that motorische music remains absolutely vital today.

Head Rush ends with The Legendary Flower Punk on the bonus CD, presenting a stunning thirty minute live version of Harmonia’s Watussi. The way it builds in intensity, adding to and augmenting, then abandoning a simple guitar riff to soar away into the stratosphere, is simply glorious. If Giacomo and Carolina were the perfect intro, this half hour of instrumental brilliance is the perfect send off – but everything on here is definitely worth your time.

It’d be very easy to do insipid parodies of motorische music – and plenty of bands have tried and failed in the past – but Fruit de Mer continue to show the way to everyone else with these compilations of new German-influenced sounds.  I suspect the albums are already sold out as pre-orders, but if not, and you see a copy for sale, buy it. You won’t regret it!


❉ Fruits de Mer Records present ‘Head RUSH’ (strange fish 22) Triple LP + Bonus CD set  on sale May 17th via https://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com/headrush.html

❉ Fruits de Mer Records – Website: www.fruitsdemerrecords.com | Mailing list: http://eepurl.com/YTZfj | Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Fruits-de-Mer-Records/113103324869

❉ Stuart Douglas is an author, and editor and owner of the publisher Obverse Books. He has written four Sherlock Holmes novels and can be found on twitter at @stuartamdouglas

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