Rhythm & Atmosphere: German Dubtronica & Beyond

Rhythm & Atmosphere: German Dubtronica & Beyond

This week we have turned our ears onto a rather strange, but compelling album coming out of Germany.

Shadow Documents is the work of Stefan Schneidler (bass, electronics) and Sven Kacirek (drums, percussion) – two prominent names in the German music scene.

Schneidler is the founder of the electronica/post-rock bands Kreidler and To Rococo Rot, and has worked with the likes of Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Cluster), Klaus Dinger (Kraftwerk, NEU!) and Arto Lindsay.

Kacirek is a highly renowned solo artist, and has a history of high-profile collaborations with Marc Ribot, Nils Frahm, Hauschka up his sleeve, just to name just a few.

The two have done more than their fair share of traveling. Specifically to remote areas of Kenya where they take field recordings of rare, traditional music.

Those recordings have been documented by Kacirek on two previous albums, The Kenya Sessions and The Kenya Reworks. 

Billed as “Kenya meets Krautronics,” Shadow Documents takes a different approach by removing the actual field recordings and instead reinterpreting their acoustic impressions of Kenya into hypnotic electronic templates and tribal rhythms. Niklas Addo Nettey, a Berlin resident since the early 1980s, and an original member of Fela Kuti’s Africa ’70 band, also guests on the album.

This is a challenging, original and highly enjoyable listen, and their minimalistic electronic approach with a percussive dub feel led us to dig further into music like it.

The German electronica scene is certainly large, varied and with a long history. 

We’ll dig more into the roots of krautrock later – and Kraftwerk’s Radio-Activity has a big anniversary coming up – but on this playlist we’re zooming in on a more specific scene: The dub and techno sounds that emerged out of Deutschland in the early ’90s.

A keystone figure of this movement is Moritz von Oswald (aka Maurizio). The Berlin-based multi-instrumentalist co-founded the production team and record label Basic Channel in 1993, together with owner of the Kreuzberg record shop Hard Wax, Mark Ernestus.

They started to record minimal techno under various monikers, and soon became an influential hub for this scene in Germany. Von Oswald also plays a central part of our playlist, where we have collected some other important names and musical directions.

Pole (Stefan Betke) from Düsseldorf is known for his broken filtered and glitch based dubtronics, and founder of the ~scape label where Jan Jelinek also is associated. Monolake is another key name in dub-influenced techno. They hailed from the Basic Channel/Chain Reaction label circuits where also Vainqueur, Substance and Porter Ricks have their roots.

In addition to these names, we move to the fringes with artists like Oval, Mouse on Mars, To Rococo Rot and Ricardo Villalobos, neither directly connected to dubtronica – but they share some of the same approach.

It’s a lot to digest, but we hope you enjoy the new sounds from Schneidler and Kacirek, as well as this retrospective dip into a very specific time and place in Germany. Just slide on those headphones and join us for an aural swim through these wonderful soundscapes.

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