Krautheim‘s second appearance on Winnipeg’s Dub Ditch Picnic, Die Täuschende Optik, opens in an unexpected manner with what sounds like CAN covering “California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and the Papas. After some time, I found out that the band is from Stuttgart, Germany, which furthers this puzzling element: is this indeed a bunch of Krauts covering Krautrock? This is, for better or worse, quickly shown not to be the case. Krautheim (actually known here as Krautheim II) occupy a sonic territory that I associate more with the nineties, not the late sixties or early seventies. Perhaps there is an overlapping quality between the psych rock and shoegaze elements on Die Täuschende Optik, and Krautheim are walking a thin tightrope between these two mutant genres, trying to be its own animal in this contemporary music circus.
Krautheim sound like Yo La Tengo in certain parts, and I mean that in the best shoegazing, dream-pop sort of way. There are also some tight tape edits and post-punk influences to be heard that call to mind This Heat’s urgent, experimental take on the legacy of Krautrock and the back-draft that it created in the rock-‘n’-roll underground. Some of the more straight-up rock music that Krautheim play on Die Täuschende Optik utilizes a surprisingly solid guitar tone.
That said, it simultaneously represents a kind of boring, repetitive nineties grunge vibe to these ears. I want to like these parts of the tape—which I will call “lazy shoegaze” for the sheer amusement of doing so—because it’s punk and somewhat edgy in some of the riffs and production, but it doesn’t really do anything for me. There are also, however, parts to Die Täuschende Optik where jet engines have a back-and-forth play with distorted shoegazing guitar. It’s the best sort of musical “poetic confusion” that takes the tape into a much better direction that reminds me of the most brilliant moments of La Düsseldorf, Young Marble Giants, and hushed no-wave plucking.
As mentioned earlier, this appears to be Krautheim’s second release on Dub Ditch Picnic, and while I haven’t yet heard their first offering, I can’t help wondering which side of the tightrope the band fell over on their debut album. The ultimate question, however, must be where the rope will take them into the future.
01) Das Originäre
02) Wieder Wiederrufen Wiederrufen
08) Schraube Locker