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Review: 'Urlaub in Polen'

-  Label: 'bureau b'
-  Genre: 'Indie' -  Release Date: '6th November 2020'

Our Rating:
Modulating synthy Krautrock seems to be the answer to what feels like the eternal darkness that has descended upon December 2020 – and thankfully, while various foodstuffs look likely to be scarce once Brexit kicks in, the transportation of audio from the mainland is one thing our hapless government won’t be putting barriers against as far as I’ve been able to ascertain.

Urlaub in Polen’s sixth album, ‘All’ arrives quite unexpectedly, nine years after they announced their disbanding with the release of ‘Boldstriker’, and rides in with a whole raft f unusual stylistic reference points spanning – by their own reckoning – West Coast Pop (the harmonies and the bass!), Rhineland Tech House and early Dire Straits (the vocals and the guitar production!). For a synth album, there are quite a few guitars, and at times, they shift some way from electro grooves to go quite overtly ‘rock’ – as evidenced in particular on ‘T.H.D.T’, with its classic rock rhythm section and vocal deliver – if not, conspicuously, its guitar work. But this highlights precisely the joy of ‘All’ – an album that absorbed myriad stylistic features, but confounds expectations by subtly playing with the tropes of convention to create something that sounds – dare I say it – fresh.

There’s a real vim and vigour that permeates the album as a whole, and this is apparent from the get-go on opener ‘Void’, where the vocal is heavily processed, the beat motoric and the bassline insistent and solid, with some wibbly 80s synth incidentals in the mix, too.

‘The Witcher’ is a full-throttle beast, a kaleidoscopic collision of post-rock, space-rock and post-punk, driven hard by a nagging bassline and relentless drumming that owes as much to Shellac’s ‘The Crow’ as Suicide’s ‘Ghostrider’, while Doorsy keys cascade amidst bursts of tinkling electronics, and power chords crash in like collapsing pylons in a hurricane. Seriously, it’s something else – and then the sax breezes in and takes it somewhere else completely. At six minutes and 18 seconds long, it’s nowhere near long enough. ‘The Hunter’, too, is an epic motorik psychedelic throbber, and again, it’s the dominant rhythm section that makes it more than the effects-heavy vocals, but when the shards of discordant guitar crash in it rally hits a full-on noise-rock trip.

What’s particularly unusual about ‘All’ is how Urlaub in Polen create a dense, maximalist sound while working with minimalist structures and instrumentation. It doesn’t just work, it works to stunning effect.

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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