Berlin techno artist Paul Kalkbrenner’s new album 7 brings the electro wizard’s spacey anthems to the world stage.
The techno maven’s regard is such that the German government asked him to perform at the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall takedown. Kalkbrenner provides the sounds for epic events.
Kalkbrenner isn’t the typical tranced-out DJ, geeking out on his mixing board. He embraces the techno culture of Berlin and uses this heritage to produce some stirring music.
The opening tracks of 7, Battery Park, Cyclene 412 and Cloud Rider, are simple pieces at the centre and Kalkbrenner builds on them to make massive electro anthems – he’s like a super-charged Moby. He uses atmosphere like a conventional musician would, although his hooks are moody and otherworldly (Tone & Timber, Bright Roller).
There’s a pleasing order to Kalkbrenner’s songs, and they can be heard in a traditional manner once you accept the context.
On 7 Kalkbrenner draws on the Berlin new wave tradition and his music reflects the weird edginess of that city.
For all that, there’s an international character to the music and although he uses unconventional methods to get the message across, it works. He doesn’t draw on standard electro mediums like disco and club music, so his songs are wide open to interpretation.
He does a transformative take on Grace Slick’s White Rabbit on the standout song Feed Your Head. It’s an unimagined pairing that sounds majestic and makes perfect sense. It’s a notion that is hard to ignore. Kalkbrenner could take techno to the masses – he’s the guvnor.
– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who writes about new music releases for The Morning Star every Friday.