Two New Excursions on Cosmic Winnetou

Two new releases just out from Stuttgart’s Cosmic Winnetou who have amassed a nice catalogue in the past seven years, however this is my intro to their world. These two are only reference points to what you might find while perusing their catalogue, and are quietly different, from Navel and Günter Schlienz respectively.

Navel is essentially a duo, but get some help from a few friends here (for this outing: Gage and Floyd w/Masako and Thomas). There sound is a lightly folksy ambient with a regulated low-fi atmosphere. Starting with turn round your telescope and walk the mood is dry, sensitive, with an integrated guitar strum that feels right out of the Joni Mitchell playbook. These thirty-eight minutes are sweet pleasantries for a world constantly in flux. It’s a post-krautrock lullaby, really.

Beyond Ithaka with its beep monitor, and wavering orchestral chords, is like a wondrous delusion. Dreamy in its simplicity, yet with a third eye watching for potential suspicious activity at all times. If you were to give the act of floating a soundtrack, this is it. A bit cagey, and subliminal this is a gracefully masterful piece that perfumes the studio with an air of seductive crypticism. The toaster pop that kickstarts There is both familar and oddly startling as this moves from water droplets right into an unduly lithe theme done in a style that engenders a brushed folk melody. This reminds me a lot of the more popular music coming out of Scandinavia these days, bird calls and all.

The title refers to the curve of harmonic motion, Lissajous. This latest effort from Günter Schlienz is the artist beginning a new phase as an innovative electronic artist capable of incredible subtlety, with a twist of surprise. One just has to drop into the drone float of phonoptomètre to see (hear) the light, so to speak. The atmosphere is seemingly boundless, saturated in shallow pulsations and something quite sublime, untouchable. It simply glides like a sailboat at 15 to 19 knots.

What emerges is an undefined dreamscape (or dreamstate, depending) with just the hint of humanity by its inclusion of incidental field recordings. And after a gloriously lush (albeit short) elegy (?) for tristan, which sounds ceremonial, Schlienz adds a short film snippet sample of two women talking abut an artist which leads into the passionate Famous Last Words. It’s my favorite track here, soulful w/peculiar transmissions bathed in an undulating aura. Again judging by the titles (plus, Mythos) there is some sort of dedication going on here, but it doesn’t in any way come off morose or overtly melancholy. Instead these lushly collaged works of synths and tapes become a quasi natural pairing.

Things take a slight turn for the grey on wintermärchen, however it’s not long for things to turn more towards a pastel palette. Another standout here is surface noise, I only wish it were twenty and not two minutes in length. It’s yet a tiny dose of atmospherics with a dialed in synth that flexes amid some static flecks of microsound. It reminds me of staring into the planetary abyss. Things are rounded out on held between both hands and this is where we are left, that sense of the ‘between’ – neither here nor there, but most definitely with a sense of distinctive ambient sonics. The album feels like a stepping stone to me, as though this is a volume in time, and I know just by taking in these forty-one minutes that there is a whole lot more to this story.

Yet, I also do not read deeply into this work as something particularly conceptual, rather it feels to be a soother for the nerves, in common with the previously reviewed work by Navel. Except here Schlienz seems far more capsulizing of both non/tangible sides of his impressions upon the senses. This could easily be filed under ‘Music To Watch Starry Skies By’…

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