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Kammerflimmer Kollektief

After a compelling debut, Kammerflimmer Kollektief seemed to drift into almost free-form territory that made me scratch my head a bit as they seemed to lose their focus more based on the number of people contributing to the project (which may or may not have been a coincidence). Then, they came back with the very solid Cicadidae, which seemed to solve the group dynamic problems by letting everyone have their place in a release that drifted by like an alternately warm and cool breeze.

Absencen basically continues right where Cicadidae left off and now that the group seems like they're again comfortable in a larger format, they take a few more chances with their sound. If their previous album was the equivalent of a breeze, then this newest release finds the group mixing a few gusts into their soft sounds to create a bit more dynamics. The album-opener of "Lichterloh" is a perfect example as the group unfolds soft horns and keyboards over a steady rhythm section. As the track progresses, however, the horns get more and more skronky, and some jangly guitars (with strings that sound like they're about ready to fall off) enter the mix, threatening to (but never quite doing so) shake the steady ship off course.

"Nachtwache, 15. September" follows a similar path with different instrumentation as again reverbed chimes and strings layer over a somewhat plain rhythm section while other elements enter the mix and shake it up without quite turning things into a free-for-all. Elsewhere, shorter tracks like the western-twang of "Hausen" and the dark, scraping of "Betäubt" provide short colorful interludes that neither really add a lot or detract from the overall release.

There are plenty of longer-form explorations, and it's on these tracks that the group really show how well they've come together over the course of their past two releases. "Unset (Für Jeffrey Lee Pierce)" shuffles along slowly with a twanging upright bass, some washes of feedback and nice pedal steel as unruly horns and plucked strings provide a bit of chaos while the album closer of "Die Vögel Sangen Draußen Ihre Ungereimte Melodie" smolders out for a tense eight minutes, letting instruments play off one another and silence itself in a heady way. While it still doesn't have the raw fire that the first album from the group had, Absencen is definitely a step in the direction of rekindling it.

Rating: 7.5