Review Summary: One of the biggest suprises I've heard musically; twenty eight minutes of Electronic Hardcore is not something I see every day, let alone brilliant Electronic Hardcore.
Gtuk, also known as Bastian Hagedorn, is a German songwriter, who incorporates electronic beats with his intensive hardcore screaming. I mean surely, it's been done before in small, more accessible doses, but never as a full scale record, as far as I'm aware. So I thought it was kind of set-up for failure. Nevermind the gimmicky quality you would have expected from this, but the overall essence of the idea would probably trip itself anyway. I mean, let's face it, opposite equations facing head on have caused a great deal of unpleasant things over the years (i.e., The Cold War, Rwanda Genocide), so something as simply as a musical artist’s mavericks would make an easy way to slip up.
But I guess that's actually why this album works so well-the simplicity of it. Despite the interesting mixture, the album seems to be put together simply. The electronic beats are compact, yet effectively melodic, and when they're supposed to be, effectively urgent and un-melodic. There are sometimes several layers on top each other at a time, but instead of too many complex arrangements, they all fit together to form the melodies. The funky "Verfall" uses a simple, but danceable melody, that still fits the heavily distorted screaming, and the always thumping drum beats that accompany the record.
Breakneck hardcore screaming would probably sound awkward over distorted electronic melodies. Which is why Bastian heavily distorts the vocals themselves, supposedly using old Sony cassette recorders. His vocals are urgent, and highly intense, which fits the excellently rhythmic and equally intense drum beats. He is screaming in German, so naturally, I wouldn't have any idea of what he's saying. But the sheer intensity and at times, the volume of his vocals means it's not too big a deal.
So basically, the two odd forces on the record sync perfectly on all of the songs. The frantic opener "In Der Schwebe", has a jumble of electronic melodies, and at about a quarter into the song, breaks into an almost salsa-like drumbeat, before falling back into the frantic and hardcore influenced part of the track. The opening into "Erinnerung", keeps a Nintendo like feel throughout the song, even with the frequent hardcore parts that pulls constantly in the song. In the middle of the track is a Hip-Hop styled drum beat that breaks the listener's fall, and gives a different feel of what's going on, and almost puts you back into the real world. "Im Kreis Gehen und.." starts off with one of the more complex rhythms, almost sounding like a computer malfunctioning until the real melody is presented, and then is pulled out by Hagedorn's screaming into one of the most intoxicating melodies on the whole album. The ten minute finale, "Fasto", features a clear, synth piece, that follows even the urgent drum beats and rhythmic patterns, until breaking back into a totally dreamlike synth breakdown, complete with an ambient like essence that takes probably the only break from the heavy tendencies of the record.
With all of this in play, Gtuk has turned an interesting, but fallible idea, into an interesting and superb record. It's short length calls for repeated listens, and surprisingly, nothing ever gets old about the album. It's as if every time I put it on, it's like looking into something new that you've never heard before-which speaks volumes for the album's originality. But put aside the album's originality factor, it's overall an excellent album that transcends and opens my eyes to the world of electronic music, hardcore, and even music in general to see it as I've never before.