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(100 min DVD, ‘Nekropolis’)
TRACK LIST: 1. No 8 2. Abraxas 3. Kanaan 4. Nekropolis 5. Night Visions 6. Freising TV 7. Burghausen TV 8. Friedhoff TV 9. Nekropolis-2 LINEUP: Peter Frohmader – bass; electronics Michael Schobert – keyboards; drums Rudi Neuber – drums
Prolusion. Peter Frohmader is a German musician and songwriter who has been active since the early ‘70s and is widely known both as a solo artist and the bandleader of NEKROPOLIS. This DVD, “Compilation II”, presents nine videos which nominally embrace the band’s entire career (from 1973 to 2007), all the music, artwork and visuals being credited to Frohmader, as usual.
Analysis. According to the press release, the videos were recorded and filmed at different locations, though most of which are in fact the band’s rehearsal rooms, all being small, looking not too presentable. Two of the items, Freising TV and Burghausen TV, have almost nothing to do with the music as such, showing Frohmader doing interviews (in German, with no translation or even English captions, either), once in front of the wall that his paintings and graphics are posted on. As for the musical numbers, Peter’s bass lines are for the most part fat and quite heavy, but it’s on the opening track, No 8, where his instrument does really rock, so to speak. The fact is that this is a set of traditional, here keyboard and drum, improvisations on a few repetitive themes that are provided by the bass riffs in a typically hard rock fashion, no matter that Peter plays a 8-string bass here (hence the title of the track, as I suppose). Abraxas is a kind of piece for stick, drums and loops. The result is an eccentric mishmash of sounds, but quite frankly, I from the outset haven’t expected anything interesting from this opus. You see there are only two musicians who, moreover, have ventured on a live impromptu, soloing both violently and chaotically. Nekropolis and Nekropolis-2 are clearly experimental creations, combining electronically-spacey, ambient-like and quasi avant-garde keyboard constructions with psychedelic videos (which fairly often remind me of those in Random Touch), collages of photographs with natural and singular landscapes, and also with paintings most of which, in turn, are both original and impressive, at least to my mind. Night Visions and Friedhof TV are somewhat better compositions, both evoking a simplified take on a cross between mid-‘70s King Crimson and Soft Machine, though on the other hand each is overloaded with odd effects, on both levels, meaning on the visual one as well. All in all, only Kanaan, which ranges from classic Space Fusion (at times quite heavy, though) arrangements to free-jazz jams, suits my taste and, by the way, this is the only naturally looking track in the set, coming with no visual effects at all.
Conclusion. Unlike Herr Frohmader’s three studio recordings that I’ve heard (all of which are excellent; reviews here, here and here), none of the DVD releases he sent me fully satisfy me, and while “Tidal Shifts” fails to impress me only on its visual level, this one comes across almost exclusively as a set of outtakes.
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