When I spoke to Macro co-founder Finn Johannsen a couple of months ago about the release of Elektro Guzzi's debut full-length, he enthused that the album "proves that it's still mandatory to listen to all the demos you get." Finn and Stefan Goldmann's imprint have always had an ear for the odder end of dance music, and Elektro Guzzi are certainly one of the most unconventional 4/4 outfits of current times.
Originating from Vienna's experimental rock scene, guitarist Bernhard Hammer, bassist Jakob Schneidewind and drummer Bernhard Breuer are the three members that make up the group, but an undeniably huge influence on the record is that of house and techno stalwart Patrick Pulsinger. Much has been touted about the lack of overdubs, laptops and loops in Elektro Guzzi's recordings, but Pulsinger's attention to detail in the mixing and post-production is just as important.
Pulsinger has managed to coax a real sense of space out of the recordings, making it an immersive and all-encompassing headphone listen. But there's also plenty on Elektro Guzzi to excite DJs who like it dark and tribal as well. The powerful driving minimalism of "Kimbo" comes across like a rock band attempting a cover of Robert Hood or Jeff Mills, and "Sediment"'s manic bongos and apocalyptic low-frequency rumblings should mix well with similarly paced techno.
The likes of "Jackpump" and lead single "Hexenschuss" should please fans of Shackleton, Villalobos and other trippy minimalists, but that undeniable guitar-driven edge remains throughout the record. Elektro Guzzi's combination of techno structures with the improvisational techniques of post-rock and Krautrock is a refreshing change from the quantised and digitised; Breuer's free-flowing organic percussion lends a regimented but loose backbone to the two guitarists' murky sound design and rhythmic interplay.
Even the more laidback cuts like "Black Sun" and "Loq Pol" retain a sense of veiled menace—the former using undulating tones to create a sense of unease while the latter cruises along on Schneidewind's paranoid dubwise bass riffs—but Elektro Guzzi is far from a difficult ride, its Afrobeat-inspired guitar work and flickering polyrhythmic grooves steadily luring the listener with their narcotic charm. Those looking for an album full of summer jams are going to want to steer clear of this one. Make no mistake, though: Elektro Guzzi's hauntingly beautiful contents will remain a favourite with its hardened converts during many a dark night for years to come.
Tracklist: Elektro Guzzi - Elektro Guzzi01. Hexenschuss
02. Black Egg
04. Elastic Bulb
05. Loq Pol