When I got into Krautrock in high school, I swear my folks were going to kill me. Car rides to school, dinner music, homework, chores… whatever I was doing, I was down with that motorik 8th-note bass drum beat. “Too repetitive” they’d say. They were right, I guess. You can see the argument… a lot of times the old-schoolers like Neu!, Harmonia, Can, Cluster and even those popularizing the style in the contemporary moment like Stereolab did have a tendency to draw this tool in a thin line that seemed to go on to infinity. But you know, drugs make it OK. Drugs and the fact that it’s just plain cool style – as challenging as it is aesthetically pleasing and relaxing. Anyway, if you’ve tried drugs and still can’t seem to unlock they myopic beauty of it, the way this simple rhythm is just pregnant with color and texture, you may want to scroll down and check out some of our other recent posts. Or maybe not.
See, Pas Chic Chic, the Montreal-based Krautrock quartet (which includes a member of none other than Godspeed You! Black Emperor), locks into that groove deep, but they also keep things constantly shifting and warping. The drums on side A’s “Allez Vous Faire Influencer,” for example, start with that classic bass drum pattern before nixing half of the notes to reveal a dance-floor-friendly four-on-the-floor feel. There’s also some of Charlie Watts‘ famous “Satisfaction” groove toward the middle and tasteful omissions of certain partials of the beat to keep things interesting and moving forward. Chord changes abound throughout this one, too, which is anything but typical for Kraut. Each change brings a different mix of synths and bass in the song’s charmingly joyous major-key tonality, and even some chilling vocals make an appearance in the song’s latter third. These eight+ minutes are bountiful in their bouncy buoyancy, so much so that it’s fun, not just interesting. It’s a drifter, for sure, but also undeniably focused on the conclusion such that the song’s arc follows a catchy pop trajectory that really leads you somewhere. Side B (“Premier Souffle” – ahem, song title of the year) is a longer track, and much slower, however nonetheless engaging. A big swish of organs open things up before light, tip-toeing bass provides the track with some semblance of a hook for the Gary Numan-esque lead synths to begin wrapping themselves around. Drums meanwhile remain minimal to a maximal degree with very subtle rhythms quietly trotting ahead and some trigger samples as well before deep tom-toms take the reigns to embellish the slowly progressing form.
On the whole, the best part about 12″ is that it’s just 12″‘s. That is, with all the variety (in sounds, textures, harmonic progressions, rhythms…) coupled with the fact that it’s just two songs essentially (there is a 2-minute interlude in there), both reasonably compact, especially for Krautrock, this is one of the easiest, most satisfying pills of vinyl you’ll get the chance to swallow all year. Another inch more or another inch less wouldn’t have been quite right. It’s just perfect.