Friday, June 21 2024

In West Germany, back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, a new wave of experimental rock was born. Krautrock, a trippy blend of psychedelic rock, avant-garde, and electronic music, mostly featuring synthesizers. It had a different vibe compared to mainstream music, with minimalist beat patterns and long, repetitive structures. Now, chuck in some post-punk, space rock, and ambient sound effects, and you’ve got ‘Present Paradox,’ the music project by David Kleinekottmann. He’s just dropped his second album, ‘A Trace To Keep Control,’ a journey into a dreamlike world where you might just lose yourself.

The Crack’ kicks things off with a mellow beat and a smooth, hypnotic guitar riff. David’s vocals have a Nick Cave and Matt Berninger  vibe—low-pitched and more like spoken word than singing. There’s a tonne of reverb on the vocals, giving them an eerie, otherworldly feel that fits the song perfectly. It’s a solid opener, warming you up nicely. After about 3 minutes, the track reaches its peak with some cool choir effects, synths, and soundscapes.

The Boxes’ picks up the pace with a more upbeat tempo. I really like the acoustic guitar riff, it’s a standout, injecting energy into the track. Midway through, David layers in more sound effects, keeping things interesting. Around the 2-minute mark, the drums kick in, showing off his knack for building up a song with repeating elements that never get boring. The vocals stay pretty consistent throughout, though he could mix it up a bit more for added variety.

An Avatar on Black Surface’ opens with another captivating guitar riff and spacey synth effects, reminding me a bit of David Bowie in his experimental phase. It’s one of my favourites on the album, with elements that stick in your mind.

Denial, Denial’ starts with haunting synths but quickly transitions into an uplifting guitar riff and up-tempo drum beat. It’s the first track where David really sings out, and the verses are catchy. The chorus has an Editors vibe, minus the heavy guitars. His use of choir-like backing vocals created with synths and sound effects is a clever touch, enhancing the lead vocals beautifully.

Ready to Hide’ is a more mellow tune with a bass line that John Deacon would envy. David’s signature spoken word style is back, and the jazzy saxophone adds a bite to the song. The outro is fascinating, with so much going on but everything finding its place in the mix.

The Flood’ has a The National feel, especially in the vocals. It’s a dreamy, psychedelic track, though it could be shorter. But then again, the genre thrives on maintaining a basic rhythm while adding new layers.

Ephemeral Ghosts’ is another spacey, hypnotic track with a laid-back beat. Again, David shows his talent for building songs, but like ‘The Flood,’ it could be shorter to maintain interest. The bridge in the middle is a nice surprise, before returning to its initial form. The saxophone at the 4-minute mark is brilliant.

Gurus Cirkel’ is another 5-minute experimental and psychedelic trip. Around the 2-minute mark, it gets really trippy. David knows how to pull you into a different realm and then gently bring you back with the hypnotic beat.

We Need to Take Control’ takes two minutes to get to the vocals, but right before the outro, David hits you with a bombastic sound. While ‘Distorted Mirror Images’ is more of a ballad with haunting synths, one of the album’s highlights. When the drums come in at the end, it’s a mix of The National and David Bowie.

After the Rain’ starts with a catchy synth and piano riff. It’s another beautifully written ballad. And, the final track, ‘A Lens to Find the Trace,’ wraps up the album’s distinctive sound: mellow beats, low-pitched vocals, and hypnotic riffs. The saxophone makes a great return halfway through the song.

The album’s theme delves into personal turmoil, the end of familiar closeness, the rise of right-wing politics, and climate change. It’s an artistic exploration of personal experiences intertwined with political and social commentary.

‘A Trace To Keep Control’ echoes the sound of The National, a touch of Editors and a hint of David Bowie. David’s deep voice and talent for building tension in his songs are standout features. The guitar riffs are catchy, and he keeps you hooked with surprises like a soaring saxophone or amazing sound effects. Although the beats and melodies are well-crafted and the build-ups are fantastic, there’s not much variation in the vocals and song structures. With a 49-minute runtime, it’s a bit long to play on repeat, but in Present Paradox’s defense: it’s characteristic for the genre. Still, ten songs might have been enough to keep me focused, but perhaps that’s the point: to lose yourself in a hypnotic dream state or another dimension. All in all, it was a fantastic ride!

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Review

Summary

David Kleinekottmann’s second album, ‘A Trace To Keep Control,’ as Present Paradox, blends Krautrock, post-punk, and ambient soundscapes, creating a hypnotic, dreamlike experience reminiscent of The National and David Bowie. The album features captivating guitar riffs and innovative sound effects.
74%
Psychedelic

Rating

Song Quality
Vocal Performance
Instrumentation
Lyrics
Production
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About Author

Gee Nelson

Gee Nelson has been a musician, producer and songwriter since the '90’s. Besides music Gee loves reading, writing, watching British sitcoms and playing board games. His biggest influences are Green Day, Nirvana, Offspring and Eels. His favourite genre is 90’s and early 00’s (indie) rock.

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