Klaus Dinger & Japandorf: Japandorf – album review

Japandorf

Japandorf ‘Japandorf’ (Groneland Records)
Vinyl/CD/DL
Released 25th March 2013

Considering the media frenzy regarding Kraftwerk’s recent series of gigs at the Tate Modern, this release from ex-member Klaus Dinger could be considered somewhat timely; though when you bear in mind it was predominately recorded between 2000 and 2006, and further recordings were not completed until March 2008 it is in no way is cynically timed; what’s more ‘Japandorf’ is the third part of a previously unreleased trilogy constructed over the same period. The two predecessors being called ‘pre-Japandorf’ and ‘VIVA Rimix 2010’

Perhaps its handy HMV has closed as looking at the artwork this one will certainly present shop staff with the conundrum of just where to locate it; the front cover bears the name and logo La Dusseldorf, the rear adds Japandorf though Dinger’s name is omitted entirely…sadly none of these minor issues will trouble Dinger as he passed away in 2008 aged 61.

The Japandorf project was constructed around Dinger and his partner Miki Yui and a group of young Japanese Dusseldorf based art students and non-musicians whose own creativity rekindled Dingers desire to create music once again. The project was recorded in Klaus’ hometown and in his Zeeland (Netherlands) seaside home complete with studio. These same non-musicians completed the Japandorf album as a tribute to Dinger whose influence looms large throughout; the distinctive ‘motorik’ beats dominate throughout, however there is a darker side to this album that sees smooth propulsive Teutonic beats meld with Velvets infused workouts…

Opening with the pure electronic ‘Immermannstrasse’ – this is instantly recognisable as La Dusseldorf; punchy beats and chord changes – the major and most appealing difference being the apparent inclusion of Shonen Knife to provide the vocal harmonies; the album is predominately sung in German; myself, I neither speak nor understand German, so the voices at times become an additional instrument, this as further accentuated when you consider that the Japanese born musicians are not singing in their mother tongue, as such the vocal intonations add a wonderful element to the entire recording; even Dinger indulges as he pronounces the band name as “yapan…dorf”.

‘Spacemelo’ comes across as a whimsical J-pop attempt at covering Nico and is frankly enchanting. The entire album is broken up with similar primitive field recordings; ‘Osenbe’ clearly recorded live actively uses the recording mechanisms tape hiss forming a low level dissonance over which a lone guitar is picked, before the track collapses in laughter after just minutes, at which point ‘Sketch No. 1-6’ assaults your senses with its sheer brutality; familiar progressive beats fall away to vast shards of treated guitar, metallic slabs of noise tumble forth demanding that you raise the volume, ‘Udon’ reins itself in, has more structure, but also demonstrates the pure enjoyment Dinger and Yui gained from creating these recordings – surely they can’t be signing about Japanese noodles…the video suggests that they might just be!!

‘CHA CHA 2008’ positively explodes with kinetic beats and patterns, a re-working of La Dusseldorf’ ‘Cha Cha 2000’; again the Japanese vocalisation on the harmonies brings a whole new dimension to expected ‘motorik’ style, ‘Ai’ is a 20 second German spoken word piece, before ‘Sketch No. 4’ revisits the brutalist punk no wave approach, pulses of swirling sound and again that jarring guitar…all of which builds to the magnificent ‘Karnival’ built around a looping riff, the vocals, shrill excited screams down in the mix as Dinger chants the title repeatedly; the album ends somewhat pointedly with a short burst; some twenty seconds of church bells entitled ‘Andreaskirche’

A fitting tribute to Klaus Dinger and a suitable closure for the entire La Dusseldorf project.

Klaus Dinger & Japandorf ‘Japandorf’ track list:

1. Immermannstraße
2. Duomo Arigatou
3. Sketch No 1_b
4. Udon
5. Kittelbach Symphony
6. Cha Cha 2008
7. Ai
8. Sketch No 4
9. Spacemelo
10. Karnival
11. Osenbe
12. Andreaskirche

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