Dec 012008
 
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The sounds of Gagarin Records’ 10th anniversary.2008 marks the first decade in Gagarin Records’ history. And thecommemoration consists of three soundtracks.Germany has always been a birthplace of bands and labels from theareas of alternative activity. It gave the world old and new forms ofelectronic music, krautrock, the pioneers of cosmische muzik and…Felix Kubin, the man behind Hamburg based Gagarin Records (GR), one ofthe most special sound trademarks of the last (precisely) ten years.GR started off releasing Kubin’s own material, but its catalogue lateropened up to other artists who, somehow, shared its vision of artisticfreedom and creativity. And, of course, there’s always a certaindegree of humor.Last September, GR’s 10th anniversary was marked by a European tour,which – along with special DJ sets by Felix Kubin – featured ErgoPhizmiz (www.ergophizmiz.com), Pete Um (www.umbusiness.co.uk) andEchokrank (www.echokrnak.net). This was not a coincidence, since theseare the artists responsible for GR’s most recent LP releases.Ergo Phizmiz is no stranger to those who have an interest in inventivemusic. He presented prolific work both solo and in collaboration withthe likes of Vicky Bennet’s People Like Us (PLU). This record will beanother great surprise for his fans.”Handmade in the Monasteries of Nepal”/”Eloise My Dolly” combines twocompletely different EPs in one vinyl album, with this division alsoreflecting its content. Side A was created by using the sounds ofPhizmiz’ own mouth – i.e. a cocktail of human beatbox, proto-hip-hoprhythms (at least apparently) and intriguing vocals. Vocals in whichthe words, according to the author, were stolen from various sources[from lady’s magazines to William Blake – note], because I lackedliterary imagination. As for side B, “Eloise My Dolly”, that hedescribes as an ! It’s closer to the sound collageaesthetic produced along with PLU, which basically means goodthrilling stuff. What more to say about this LP? Just get it!Pete Um, a horse breeder from Cambridge, is a curious character thatproduces curious music. This – GR informs – has been described as thesort of thing that sounds wrong whatever speed you play it at. In his”No Pressure” work, the first for Felix Kubin’s imprint, Um provides18 short tracks (a characteristic of his work, it would seem), inwhich he balances acoustic composition and low-tech electronics. It’smight not be the hottest item of the century but the somewhat complexstructures and peculiar subjects approached in the long list of songsmake this a quite interesting album. Certainly an item worthy of beingdiscovered, by an artist worthy of being discovered.Finally, GR presents an untitled album by Echokrank, a German duofeaturing Brezel Goring and the one known as “Hotleg”, who producedthis work using children’s toys and fleamarket trash. A completedeparture from the two previously mentioned releases, Echokrank’smusic is, as stated, an impulsive mix of dub-psycho-speed-new wave,action film soundtracks and 50’s musique concrete, which is probablya good description, taking in account the multiple directions thelistener is taken. Anyway, in simpler terms, it could be said thatthis is a serious case of electro pop/rock marked by a bizarrerhythmic ambience, somewhere between club dance floor and madhouse.And I think it is a must to mention that there is also a freaky coverof Sisters of Mercy’s “Marian”, which is definitely a little pearl!

Visit Gagarin Records on the web at:
www.gagarinrecords.com

[article by Nuno Loureiro] [proofreading by Marc Urselli]