Reviews: Adios Al Futuro
From Audion / Ultima Thule
ADIOS AL FUTURO
No, not a bunch of Teutonic radicals, Das Rad got their name (partly, I think) from Steve Dinsdale’s first electronic band named DAS, who were the precursor to Radio Massacre International, and adding the first letter of each member’s surname (which is also the first 3 letters of Radio), you end up with Das Rad: Nick Robinson (guitars, effects) probably best-known for being in the 80s Sheffield new-wave band They Must Be Russians, Martin Archer (winds, keyboards, electronics) head honcho of Discus Music, and the aforementioned Steve Dinsdale (drums, synth). Not that Das Rad bear any resemblance to DAS or Radio Massacre International. They are a bit more “rad” and unclassifiable than that! Martin and Steve had previously worked together in Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere, and thus some of their interaction from that project can be heard in Das Rad too. But, that said, none of the music is really what one would expect from either.
The eponymous debut CD covers a lot of ground in its twelve tracks, from the upbeat and groovy to the abstract or moody, in fact so much ground that it would be pointless to do a track by track review. Basically, the disc starts with an upbeat number that kind of reminds me of that old 70s outfit Quiet Sun (with Phil Manzanera) given a lively modern update, then we go mid-tempo, atmospheric and moody, majestic, then light classical acoustic, before then getting funky with synths and sax. Track 7: Sehnsucht does much of the former all in one track, getting a little Lard Free like, it moves through upbeat and more low-key phases (the latter with reverse Frippian guitar and multi-voiced saxophone), and crams a lot into its 5:43 duration. The three most experimental tracks all end with the word “Steps” and feel improvised, all with lots of nice expressionistic noodling on guitar by Nick. In all, not a bad debut, and one with many surprises.
ADIOS AL FUTURO has a different focus, and a very live sound – actually it sounds like they’re performing in a cave, which is odd! The opening number Inside Reverse, feels a bit like the late 1980s international German based combo Dark with David Torn on guitar, but with lots of extra twiddly bits and Nick Robinson gets a tad more freaky than Torn ever did. Buzz Line is a different high flying fusion, which reminds me of someone (I just did a check), yes – it’s somewhat like Phil Manzanera circa DIAMOND HEAD, with a little bit of Tangerine Dream in the sequencer line.
Other tracks run a wider range of styles, Deuce Of Gears being more freeform experimental, and a variety of fusions, some of which I’m thinking Bruford – I could be right. There’s a very funky groove at the heart of Oslo Star, which seems to be a Terje Rypdal dedication. And then Tiefes Blau ends the disc with a 10 minute slow majestic beat and everything but the drums immersed in a crazy haze of echoes and reverb.
So, that’s two highly creative instrumental fusion albums that cover a wide variety of styles whilst gaining their own style along the way. They’ve also issued a 10″ record, which I’ve not heard and are working on a third album!
Das Rad? Strewwelpeter? Titles like ‘Eisblume’ or ‘Tiefes Blau’? Just looking at the cover and the band name would lead you completely on the wrong track. Because behind the name and optical mystery hides a trio from Sheffield, England, which turns completely to the experimental and “not always easy to appreciate” tones. Nick Robinson (guitar, keyboards, electronics), Martin Archer (saxophone, keyboards, synth bass, electronics) and Steve Dinsdale (drums, keyboards, electronics) move in the border area between avant-garde, ambient, open free forms and jazz rock. It is especially the saxophone and various electronics that shape the timbre of Das Rad.
Here a certain openness is required from the listener, because you have to get involved with the sometimes quite scratchy, bulky material, even the floating, melodious sounds require time and space. An improvised sound experiment such as ‘Deuce Of Gears’ leaves behind a certain question mark, but on the other hand the band manage to create intense and quite exciting structures, such as the title song, which comes up with a Mellotron background and a lot of reverb.
In the sluggish, lazy sound cosmos, it sometimes goes in the direction of hypnotic, mystical Ambient / Space / Krautrock, in other moments electronic sound cascades find their way. Occasionally, memories of the electronic and soundscape-shaped projects by King Crimson are awakened. The stark alternative to this is the fragile ‘ice flower’ carried by beautiful melodies. In the truest sense of the word, this is progressive music in which the three instrumentalists let themselves be carried away by their ideas. Even with a certain preference for angular, unpredictable tone sequences, it is advisable to listen to “Adios Al Futuro”.
Wow, the Wheel is treading! Despite all the strange attributes of noise, flight, improvisation, etc. it all comes together in a hellishly shaped sense! The wheel = wheel. Martin Archer prepared it nicely for us. Perhaps he will never get involved in the publishing deeds of his Discus Music. Whether he releases unique recordings by Keith Tippett, the impro-varied multi-ensemble Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere (Theta One to the recent Theta Five) or Das Rad, where Archer ubiquitously works with saxophones, synths with bass and keyboards. Two years after the debut of this duo, Nick Robinson’s psychedelic, thick-colored guitar really calls the saga an order of magnitude even more!
The improvisational trio from Sheffield works on an electro-freejazz basis. This is most evident in the twelve-minute introductory Inside Reverse, in which the layered / interleaved / rises / interweaves of the motif lines of various guitars (pure and broken effects) and saxophones (as well) with additional keyboards and sampled noises. Everything is hypnotically held at first by the almost imperceptible, sneering, coloring drums of Steve Dinsdale, but in the thickened instrumental gradation of the composition, they start the rhythm like a hellish machine. He will start in the subsequent Buzz Line without introductory phrases.
Which is an oak-jazz affair, where the bike steps on one riff under beautiful saxophone plays, urgent, intricately refined, it forces itself to sway in rhythm, at the same time to fly in fantasy. But you won’t have time to take off, because it will end soon and Deuce of Gears makes you think of the space between “pleasant” notes and noise. The title Adios Al Futuro is then with looped echoes of the electric piano, a chopped guitar and an ethereal baritone saxophone connecting these two musical poles previously introduced – harmonious playfulness to simple imagination versus flight in all directions into the complete noise unknown. Oslo Star then goes on a guitar hypno trip à la Fripp and Tiefes Blau closes the whole thing, in unexpected improvisational variations of instruments and chords. No template, construct, but permanent tension.
Das Rad is a trio comprising guitarist Nick Robinson, drummer Steve Dinsdale and Martin Archer on reeds, all three contributing keyboards and electronics. ‘Adios Al Futuro’ is an album you grow into, a shimmering, ethereal free-form expressionist music with occasional voices and enough ‘hooks’ to pull the listener in.
The sax, echoed by guitar, on ‘Rothko Strobe/ Another Place’ is especially memorable, as are the bass driven grooves on ‘Buzz Line’. My stand-out was ‘Oslo Star’ with lingering guitar notes, harp-like keyboard flourishes and jazz-like figures. ‘Tiefes Blau’ is the longest piece at 10 minutes, a satisfyingly spacey ending to an intriguing album
This UK-based band’s follow-up to its self-titled 2019 release is a tad less experimental and more grounded in progressive rock and krautrock, aptly called out in the press release. It is an acoustic-electric offering often sweetened by Martin Archer’s wistful sax lines, slightly tinged with studio echo to provide a little depth. Moreover, many of these works feature hummable melody lines and memorable hooks, although the trio does sprinkle ominous overtones amid Nick Robinson’s stinging guitar chords and razor-like lead lines.
Other than related electronic dreamscapes, the core trio grooves to many different beats with EFX which may intimate the bending of space time and other cosmic trickery. With shadowy backdrops, ostinato synth motifs and prodding pulses, they also engage the free jazz element, namely on “Deuce of Gears.” But on “Adios Al Futuro” they dish out a slow cadence with broad backwashes of electronics and Archer’s peppery sax phrasings, largely steeped in prog rock-like explorations via a wondrously coordinated arrangement.
“Eisblume” is a pretty interlude consisting of Robinson’s deft Spanish guitar work and Archer’s singing sax lines, touched with mellotron voicings. Whereas “Tiefes Blau” is the lengthiest and final track clocking in a little over 10-minutes; on this piece the musicians launch a budding theme, topped with a lovely harmonica-sounding keyboard riff. They also swerve into a spacey jazz fusion mindset with enticing harmonic applications, trickling EFX and guest bassist Aidan Hall’s booming notes and the artists’ intersecting micro-themes. Like the preponderance of the album it is an addictive piece, where gentle adaptations seamlessly coalesce with steely injections and Steve Dinsdale’s punchy pulses and crushing rock tempos. Overall, the negative if slightly playful album title bids a goodbye to the future, yet Das Rad seems to be enjoying its trek into the cosmos, searching for a habitable port of call somewhere in our solar system.