Peter Kruder is a Vienna-based musician, producer and co-owner of the label G-Stone Recordings together with longtime collaborator Richard Dorfmeister. As a duo, Kruder and Dorfmeister’s downbeat soundscapes and inventive continental trip-hop would become some of most celebrated electronic music of the late nineties and early noughties.
It’s fascinating to me how far some musicians will go to get away from the stock, generic sounds of electronic presets and plugins. These days, sound design and sound architecture for electronic musicians has replaced melody and harmony as the backbone of writing music. It’s not like people don’t write catchy melodies anymore, but these aren’t really considered predictable factors of success or popularity. As somebody who’s well acquainted with the preset sounds of both software and hardware, one of the first things I noticed when listening to Parquet is how hard Elektro Guzzi have worked to modify their instruments—guitar, drums, and bass—in order to find sounds that are their own. That effort has paid off, because this record simply sounds different than the rest . . . even though it still operates within the context of a very specific style of techno; a kind of reduced Berlin-Detroit “minimalism”, if you can call it that. “Minimalism” here is maybe a misnomer, because most of the tracks—from the opener “Affumicato” to the pulsing “Moskito”—build into full, charging tunes. Nevertheless, you can still clearly hear all parts of the machine working individually, and in superb sonic clarity.
I would guess that’s also the result of working together with producer Patrick Pulsinger, whose contribution to this album shouldn’t be overlooked. I always especially liked the music Pulsinger did that was heavily influenced by Detroit and Berlin techno. But he’s really done so much. Like with Easy to Assemble. Hard to Take Apart, re-processed and reinterpreted tracks that he had recorded with these incredible Viennese jazz musicians. For me, the album was proof of the size of his musical vocabulary. But one of the most important things a producer can do is to adapt to a band’s musical impulses. When I was helping to produce DJ Hell’s Teufelswerk, it was no different. Instead of trying to squeeze and force him into my own scheme, I decided just to add my touches to Hell’s own ideas. And not only as a sign of respect, but also because what you end up with is usually better. Knowing Patrick’s work in the past and his affinity for jazz, it seems to me that he was able to rein in and direct Elektro Guzzi’s instrumental virtuosity towards ultra-straight, unwavering results, while still giving them space to breathe and improvise. And everything on this record just sounds really good, with the gates and compressors used to maximum pumping and breathing effect.
Twenty-five years ago, almost all music was played by people who had mastered their instruments—electronic or otherwise. Today, people have become fascinated by electronic musicians reintegrating that mastery back into dance music, especially through live instruments—from Hercules and Love Affair to Brandt Brauer Frick. But with Elektro Guzzi, maybe even more than other artists, you hear a band that refuses to rely on the “novelty” of their musicianship. In fact, they do quite the opposite: instead of dwelling on the uniqueness of playing live electronics, they’ve decided to get busy with experimentation, pushing both the boundaries of their instruments and, in the process, techno as a genre . . . or should I say rock? Rhythmically, most of what you’re hearing is machine-like four-to-the-floor, but the songs were played live. Parquet really made me wonder if man is not the better machine. ~
Published December 30, 2011.