Good news from the neurofunk-consciousness frontier: Rawtekk’s debut album has arrived on Med School and the compelling compilation of forward-thinking dnb and 22nd century pop music is more than a worthy addition to this years’ rich roundelay of first class albums. But -as always- let’s start at the beginning: Rawtekk, that’s Christine and Stephan Westphal, hailing from Hamburg and not only in bodily vicinity to their friend and fellow tamer of frequencies Phace, for the first thing one immediately recognizes when approaching the album is its almost unreal sound – truly, if it was any bigger it would certainly undergo gravitational collapse and become a black hole. But that superficial (and especially supraficial) über-thickness is by far not where it ends, for as soon as you’ve regained enough senses to go on (-and a hit such as Anywhere’s bass can take quite some recovery time-) you’ll likely find yourself blinded by an eerie beauty, carried away by an adventurous arrangement, or simply raving.
Yes, I’m obviously having trouble restraining my affection, so once more back to the beginning: Sprouted and Formed starts with what I carry for about a week now as rather persistent earworm, the epic A Magnanimous Kind’s Will, and that tune nicely introduces what’s waiting for the mesmerized listener in the next hour: crisp and powerful drums, colossal basses, and whenever Christine’s voice is involved a subtle and creepy melancholy. It should be noted though that she definitely appears to be a crazy person, but I reckon that’s exactly what gives this record its unique and even in its dreamier moments un-liquid charm. Her poetry too is a welcome change from the usual lyrical ejaculations of first world problems and third world fantasies in most modern day machine music. Songs like the already mentioned Anywhere or the ethereally evil Merry Anna show how beautifully a tender and quite special emotion can be merged with a masterfully handled occasional tendency towards sonic destruction of the world; and tunes like the almost zappa-esque Schlager-hymn Halo or the lullaby-like and perhaps a trifle too long Ventricle nicely stir up the otherwise pretty intense melange of beats and recreational havoc.
So what’s with the drum & bass? An eligible question in a dnb revue, but fear not, gentle reader, no less than 9 of the total 16 tracks are settled within the temporal boundaries of our beloved genre. You probably already know No More Vaccine from the Neosignal podcast (and if not take that as assurance of its quality) and Photone Recruits which was released on Hospital’s summer compilation some weeks ago (reviewed here), and I assure you’ll be glad to make the acquaintance of the playful Amber’s Love Was Like A Marble, the heavy Monopolists and Robberies or the funky half-time stomper Working Man. My undisputed champion of the release however is the ingenious duality of To Be A Space Monkey -a fast paced lesson in electronic polyphony and drive- and the title track Sprouted and Formed that twirls in the agony of its seemingly ineffective attempts to shake off the bass from its back. And all I want to do is jump on too…
Carried away from the first line, I did what I could to make my verdict as surprising as possible, but I guess when I admit now that Sprouted and Formed is among the very best albums in the wide field of dnb I’ve encountered so far, it’ll not surprise anyone. Its highly diverse journey is as thrilling as it is rewarding, its various aspects will enrich your life from the bedroom to the floor, and it adds a whole new dimension to the term ‘forward-thinking’. Oh, and Skrotum Left Its Dwelling is one hell of a track too.
Rawtekk – Sprouted and Formed (Med School Records)