I don’t hang out in record shops as much as I used to, a state of affairs my wallet doesn’t mind. But the flip side of that absence is that I don’t as often have the sort of epiphanies I did a few months ago while in Permanent Records. I heard something playing on the sound system I didn’t know, and after a couple of songs the music had seduced me enough to ask the man behind the counter, Bill Roe, what was playing. The enticing sounds were by a Swiss duo called Klaus Johann Grobe, and Roe was playing an album his label, Trouble in Mind, would soon be releasing. That record, Im Sinne der Zeit, was released yesterday. I listened to it three times. I never listen to records three times in a single day!
Over crisp, lean Krautrock-derived rhythms—some recall the motorik groove of Neu! while others have that postdisco hi-hat throb—Sevi Landolt sings in German (even when the song titles are in English) and lays down hypnotic, skittery organ licks and swells as well as well-placed analog synthesizer patterns. Klaus Johann Grobe’s music is crafty in its insinuating charm. At times the organ tone suggests the cheesy lounge flavor of Brazilian keyboardist Walter Wanderley, providing a kind of balance to the terse, hard-hitting grooves meted out by drummer Daniel Bachmann. The album’s nine tunes convey a wide variety of moods and melodic shapes, but on today’s 12 O’Clock Track, “Between the Buttons,” the vibe is pure forward motion, with a propulsive, sinister bass line, tightly coiled beats, and staccato organ stabs supporting the chill singing.