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T. Raumschmiere - Radio Blackout

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Artist: T. Raumschmiere

Album: Radio Blackout

Label: Mute

Review date: Dec. 4, 2003

T. Raumschmiere is a punk drummer, who currently plays in a band that goes by the groan-inducing handle Crack Whore Society. T. Raumschmiere makes electronic music for little German labels like Kompakt and his own Shitkatapult, which is famous for being the home of microhouse producers like M. Mayer and Thomas Fehlmann. Is he a drummer who makes dance music or a producer who plays the drums? Yes, this is a trick question. If Raumschmiere is a skin-beater who dabbles in electronic music, then he’s not in good company. Nobody likes it when ‘real musicians’ apply their superior craftsmanship skills to cranking out silly little dance choons. Bill Laswell and Talvin Singh, I’m looking at you. On the other hand, if he’s a producer who also happens to play a real live instrument, he finds himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of Vladislav Delay and Daft Punk (who got their name from a nasty review of the real live instrument band they were in before they made Homework). Raumschmiere’s new album Radio Blackout makes a solid case for membership in the latter group, both in its aesthetics and generally high quality. At its worst, however, it becomes painfully clear that this album was made by a person who thought Crack Whore Society was a clever name for a punk band.

“Monstertruckdriver” is the name of one of the best tracks here, but it would have made a much better album title than the uber-generic Radio Blackout. It’s a big stomping beast of a tune with a cheerful two note melody howling over a surprisingly glitchy track, schaffel reimagined as the rightful inheritor to Gary Glitter’s “Rock And Roll, Pt. 2”. Miss Kittin puts in a fine cameo on “The Game is Not Over”, howling monotonously over a sweaty shuffle of a groove that would have been the height of tedium in lesser hands. Rob Zombie’s hands, for example. Throughout the album, the synths squeal like electric guitars (as opposed to synths purposefully made to sound like electric guitars, eccch) in a manner similar to the tolerable bits of Fat Of The Land. “Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Strom” goes one step further and gets downright nasty on your ass, with an exuberant uptempo throb that summons images of candy ravers collapsing from heat exhaustion. Even in a more subdued moment like “Someday”, there’s an ominous quality that oozes through the mixing board. It’s a lot more effective than moody goth types who whip out their Scary Voice as if being scary was as easy as putting on a black overcoat.

Raumschmiere’s also got more funk under his fingernail than Howlett’s bunch have in their collective body. Sadly, that funk is made to plod uselessly on tracks like album opener “I’m Not Deaf, I’m Ignoring You”, which is far too bland to make an impression. By the time the next few tracks have passed by, it’s long forgotten, but Raumschmiere can’t keep himself from falling into clichés on the later tracks. “Rabaukendisko” sounds like the ROCK demo setting on a Casio keyboard, and “muSick boy” is a third-rate version of an Aphex Twin b-side with a little Atari Teenage Riot liberally sprinkled on top. Ah, but the worst is yet to come. “A Million Brothers (blah blah blah)” is, at best, aptly titled, since “blah blah blah” is a kind way of describing the political ‘rhymes’ laid down by the inexcusably daft MC Soom T. With lines like “Experimenting with your dignity like a whore / have you not taken enough, you always looking for more” and a beat that’s duller than the newsprint the media are apparently printing their lies on (Damn! Who knew!), the track threatens to sink the whole album. If it wasn’t for the brilliant “Querstromzerspaner”, the label could have sliced off the last twenty minutes and released this as an EP. As it is, Radio Blackout is too uneven to be called a masterpiece, and too good to be dismissed outright.

By Dave Morris

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