Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kernkrach Records

As most of it’s followers already know, the early electro scene gave rise to a wealth of records, some of which rival their American Hardcore counterparts in terms of obscurity and value. For sure, it was the British bands wound up hogging international praise, but as great as some of those early records were by Yazoo, Human League, Fad Gadget, or Caberet Voltaire might have been, most of those folks (Fad Gadget notwithstanding) soon went off into an entirely different direction or went totally pop. Some bands, not necessarily from the UK and definitely without the commercial success of a Depeche Mode, continue with cult-followings up until today, an example of which might be the french band Norma Loy.

But there’s still a mine of great (and, undoubtedly, not-so-great) stuff left to be unearthed and preserved for those who don’t feel like dropping $100+ on a piece of vinyl. Thankfully there’s a number of European labels taking up this task, and even a newly formed American label by the name of Minmal Wave, run by Veronica Vasicka, the DJ of the weekly East Village Radio show of the same name. Kernkrach Records is one of those Euros who’ve taken up the mandate of both re-issuing old material and releasing new stuff heavily influenced the days of yore, all with some quite distinctive packaging that runs the gammut from roof shingle- record covers, to X-ray 45 sleeves. They do quite a job; I was quite happy to acquire three of their releases so far:

Nachtraum’s LP is an impressive collection of distorted bleeps and crackles originally put to tape in 1983. Some great cold-wave they’ve managed to capture here, with obligatory icy vocals, and plodding beats that recall early Killing Joke. They hit all the right spots with their anxious, foreboading synths.
Dig on their track Tiere Schreit.

Sickdoll, a new band, goes for a more synth-pop approach on their 7”, but keep it dark, like a DIY Orchestral Manouevers in the Dark. Distant sounding keyboards contrast with very present vocals that are up front in the mix, but enough low end to put some bass in your bedroom dance-party. Here's their trackSohn Geht Auf.

2 Hemden 2 Hosen keep it trashy sounding, but don’t expect some electroclash avant la lettre. While these guys retain a distinctly early 80’s european sound, you definitely hear elements of Cali synthpunk as Factrix and Nervous Gender come to mind. In some moments, they come off sounding like certain early material by our dear friends, Sixteens.

One issue of note: all these little gems are super limited, and word is the Nachtraum LP, my favorite of the bunch, has already sold out. Though you might try to try Fusetron Sound if you're stateside and want to pick up some Kernkrach material.


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