Le Clavier Oculaire

The album Kindspechleber (EMPIRIC RECORDS EMREC I) by Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf is certainly one of the more perplexing oddities we’re had stowed in these quarters for a while. In terms of previous items sent here, we don’t know much about the Aalfangers apart from their involvement in a Freiband project from around 2014 – he remixed their Mutatis Mutandis album, which itself was composed from Freiband samples. They call themselves a “German experimental sound collage collective” and have been at it since 2004, with their earliest releases appearing on their own AAL label; on the other hand, it might all be the work of one man, Mirko Uhlig, rather than a collective, a possibility which only deepens the mystery.

Kindspechleber is certainly a collaged statement. In places, particularly on side one, I got the feeling it was trying to aspire to the condition of the first Faust LP, with its startling juxtapositions of sounds and ideas – clashing stabs of mundane populist music with profoundly odd arty electro-acoustic drones. Nothing could ever be as innovative or ground-breaking as Faust’s debut, but there’s no harm in treading in the footsteps of its collaging technique. Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf also use a lot of voices here, many of them treated in the studio through filters and distortions to become hideous, sneering, alien; their messages, spoken in German, are quite obscure to me, but you can tell by the underlying tone that all is not well. One might almost call Kindspechleber a troubled post-modern update on Gesang der Jünglinge.

Mirko Uhlig also favours chilling and portentous drones, almost theatrical in their sense of imminent doom, and not too far apart from something a fan of Nurse With Wound / United Dairies records would relish. But he also favours moments of utter naffness, such as clichéd rock guitar riffs and badly-executed moments of heavy metal nonsense, which are inserted in the semi-surreal narrative flow for no good reason – except to irritate the listener, perhaps. Speaking of which, that bicycle bell is pretty annoying too, chiming in randomly as if to punctuate scene changes. Other aural irritants can soon be found as the reluctant listener trudges across the six tracks on offer, and the sense of disorientation and bewilderment will only grow.

It may appear from the above that I am expressing a certain disenchantment, but I liked this odd album; the overall effect is actually quite winning, for reasons I can’t understand myself, and you reach the end sensing that there’s a conceptual wholeness to the strange journey. As well as the names mentioned above, we could happily file this alongside the more perverse moments of LPs by H.N.A.S. or Doc Wör Mirran, both acts which can share a similar preoccupation with collaging near-nonsensical materials into a carefully crafted stream of gibberish, and arriving at a similarly absurdist view of the world, intended to unbalance the mind of the listener. The cover art continues these themes, picking up from the Max Ernst technique of using old engravings as used by 150 Murderous Passions or Bladder Flask (and probably other 1980s Industrial musicians too), to convey here the idea of a modern Ship of Fools. The ship itself is disintegrating, composed of errant fly-away typography, suggesting something about the friable nature of language and the impossibility of communication. From 24 October 2012.