Different Forces, the second album from Phantom Horse, is a real trip. The Hamburg based duo have recorded 6 tracks of sublime motorik music, slowly unfurling epics designed for cruising down Krautrock autobahns. Naturally, the influence of Kraftwerk can be heard pulsing away in the synthetic melodies, but other names come to mind - the band themselves namecheck Moondog, and the jazz pioneer's touch can be heard in both Phantom Horse's rattling, clicking rhythm tracks, and in the occasional squawl of saxophone. Lasting 45 succinct minutes, we think the band may have just put in a late showing for one of the albums of the year...
Listen to the full stream on Bandcamp below, and read Phantom Horse's Ulf Schütte and Niklas Dommaschk break the record down beneath -
We recorded the basic tracks for the album in summer 2011. While Niklas’ parents were on vacation we could stay at their house, set up our equipment in the living room and made music for a week almost non-stop.
During breaks we did trips to the North Sea, which is not far off. You can go “wattwandern”, walking across the mudflats, during low tides. As we learned, you have to return to safe ground in time, though, as the water is coming back a lot faster than you might think…
01. Amsel Variation
This song had a completely different character at first. It had lots of piano-loops and sounded almost like a (bad) try at a Steve Reich composition. The breakthrough came when we ditched the pianos for the marimba-style synth loops and threw the drum machine on. The Roland TR-77 sounds really murky here but it's fitting, we think; it matches the ritualistic feel of this song. Our favourite part is when Ronnie from Datashock sets in with the clarinet.
02. Different Forces
Like the “Amsel Variation” this one has got a ritualistic feel to it that we really like. It came about when we added the overdubs to the second part of the song. The basic track was just a long drone piece at first. We added lots of rhythmic elements like percussion and a synth pattern and now it rumbles along like a deranged post-apocalyptic caravan.
This is probably the darkest of the songs. It sounds really brooding. For us it evokes images of amphibia crawling through your garden at night, doing their secret amphibia-stuff. But at the same time it is funny as well with all its weird sounds, we think. It is based mainly on tape-loops, hence the hiss. There is also some dark Korg synth-stuff in there.
We recorded this track on New Years Eve 2012/2013 while getting drunk in a no-party-mood.
Hector is probably the closest we will ever come to a four-and-a-half minute popsong. Of course it doesn't have a typical pop-structure but the various interlocking e-piano and synth patterns together with the droning organ-loop sound quite catchy to our ears.
Initially it was meant to be on some kind of special edition 7“ record but it never came out. Despite the pop-song-feel we think it fits well with the rest of the album and gives the B-side a light, playful opening.
This one, too, wasn’t done in Husum, but in Niklas flat in Hamburg.
05. Belegte Welt
This is the track that still sounds closest to the recording we did in the initial session in 2011. We recorded it in a single take direct to stereo; it was 18 minutes long at first, and then edited down to its current length. There are two or three minor overdubs, but basically the track very much sounds as we recorded it – all the odd moments included…
A peaceful relaxed ending for the album. It's like the reward for having endured rumbling along "40 Miles of Bad Road" (or rather 40 minutes). This song was done entirely in Husum. For us, the melodic patterns give a slight hint towards those peaceful images of castles you see in the cutscenes of the old Commodore-64 game “Defender of the crown” before you wreck them with a catapult – at least that’s what we think, not having played it for quite a while now…
Phantom Horse - Different Forces is available on digital and limited edition vinyl. Buy from the Umor Rex Bandcamp here