If you hadn't heard of the Kammerflimmer Kollektief at the beginning of the year (or even by now for that matter), chances are that you will be hearing the name more by the end of it. Although they've been around in their native Germany for some time now, they're just starting to make their stateside appearance. Over the course of 2001, the group has three releases planned for the states, and if they have anything to say about it, that will probably just be the start.
Although the name of the group is Kammerflimmer Kollektief (which roughly translates to "the shimmering collective"), the majority of Mäander is really a solo affair (despite the group adding several members since that release as well. Sloshing together post rock, noise, and all kinds of other styles, the release is a long, mixed bag of music with suprisingly cohesive results.
The disc opens up with a track called "Mond?" that sounds surprisingly like something you might hear off a release by the Third Eye Foundation. With a dark and rumbling jungle sort of beat purring beneath, the track adds some plucked stringed instruments and bits of static over the top for a nicely haunting feel. "Implodiert" starts off with almost a riffing bass and drums combo and just the slightest amount of squalk behind it (if it wasn't there, it would probably sound something like a jazz band on an extended warm-up). Eventually, the swirling noises just under the surface of the track build and eventually take over the track in a huge wall of noise before dropping back into a quieter version of the opening riff to close things down.
Things change up again on the third track, with a smooth beat that feels like it was yoinked directly from the Massive Attack track "Intertia Creeps." The track is quiet and subdued, though, and it works as a bit of a breather from the louder opening tracks. From there, the album swings back and forth a bit until the end. Tracks like "Rand" and "Simultan" work more of a noise edge (with the former sounding like a spastic electro-jazz freakout) while others show that the group can pull off quiet and pretty tracks as well. One of the best examples of such a track is on "Gras," on which nearly all live-instrumentation sounds mingle with one another in a beautiful harmony.
Although there are a couple of slight mis-steps (the electro-sounds on "Lunger" seem pretty out-of-place), as mentioned above, the album works suprisingly well together given all the different sounds. Sometimes the group lets the noise factor overwhelm the actual music just a little bit too much (the nice piano part in the album closing track "Brack" is barely audible over the hiss of static), but most of the time it's used well in adding tension and release to the tracks. Overall, it's a great release and domestic debut for the group and I can't wait to see what they do in the future.