Disparition, Neukrk

Disparition (aka Jon Bernstein) returns for the first time since his intriguing sound-collage, 1989, with the kinetic vibe of Neukrk. Giving a nod to the history of electronic music that has inspired him, Bernstein takes a far-ranging approach, from dark atmospheres matched with club-hewn beats to noise experiments perched on the outside border of music. While Neukrk is in no way a derivative rehash, chances are you’ll still find yourself playing the reference game in your head while you listen. I dig into the energetic charge of “Ratchathewi” with its heavy bass licks, snare raps and industrial grinds and I pick up sonic shadows from Tangerine Dream, New Order and Heaven 17. The big, powerful keys in “Nieuwe Utretcht” feel like OMD filtered through several layers of gauze to roughen it up slightly without taking off any of the bounce or melody. And when “Anomie” kicks in with the same James Brown sample that made the 80s hit “It Takes Two (To Make A Thing Go Right)” painfully unforgettable, I couldn’t help but chuckle. (Don’t worry–Bernstein takes it in his own direction. No pumping of the jam will ensue.) Your associative mileage may vary, but you’ll hear familiar touches all over this disc. They range because Bernstein isn’t about to settle into one particular zone. Neukrk is a slideshow in sound, each track a new vista and a new approach, each with its own way to grab you. “Succession” packs a solid cinematic punch, particularly when the beat sets in just short of the two-minute mark, and a hint of Middle Eastern influence. String sounds upgrade the drama. Speaking of drama, “Ditmas” draws a vivid picture of a sense of emotional hollowness in the wake of loss, a soul-ache set to music. A piano, played sadly within some cold, cavernous, echoing space intermingles with the sound of a passing train. Sadness and beauty, perfectly melded.  The track “Jandoubi” drills straight through me–an amazing piece of work. It has a big, symphonic-rock feel, spacious and bold. And when Bernstein drops in a Middle Eastern-feel vocal sample set off by single, slammed-down piano chords, I was stopped in my tracks. The closer, “A Door,” drones past, with quietly clattering percussion dancing around it, the effect belying the thickety tangle of sounds before it. There are no bumps or jolts as this disc crosses borders. Bernstein smoothly stitches the tracks together with effective, low-key transitions to turn Neukrk into an ongoing flow. Over the course of 18 tracks, Bernstein keeps things interesting and every piece comes off perfectly executed. Neukrk is an exhilarating, thoughtful and thought-provoking work–which is why it’s a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.

Available from CD Baby.

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