Album Review: Piano Nights by Bohren & der Club of Gore
Great, Based on 4 Critics
Tiny Mix Tapes - 80 Based on rating 4/5
Bohren & Der Club of Gore is best reserved for those strictly contemplative moments, where the opportunity to dwell in environmental quiet becomes clouded by lingering distractions. It’s music for hopelessly sleepless nights that burst with anxiety and suspense, where it’s impossible to think clearly or channel your intentions into a cohesive pattern. Bohren provides the perfect escape hatch, where the burning resonance of plucked fibers coexists with the deadening thunk of minor keys.
Piano Nights, the eighth album by the German band Bohren & der Club of Gore, is functionally the same as their seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second, and first. The mood is solemn, the tempos are slow, and each note carries within it the suggestion that it might be the band’s last. In some cases, repetition is a sign of laziness or lack of imagination; in others—like Bohren’s or the Ramones’—it’s a show of commitment to an idea so elegant in its original design that changing it would constitute betrayal.
Though there was an EP in between, it has been over five years since Bohren & Der Club of Gore's last full-length, Dolores. That record provided a shift in their trademark, "doom-ridden jazz music." There, one could actually hear lighter, breezier sounds in their suffocating, black narcotic mix. The nine tunes on Piano Nights walk a line between the haunted beauty of Dolores and the more austere, glacial darkness of earlier recordings.
There's something terrifyingly beautiful about Bohren & Der Club Of Gore's music, most obviously the sheer unhurried lethargy of it. Each piece moves slower than hell, meditating at the sort of pace the 20th century's communication explosion almost killed off. Each Bohren release evokes the sedate momentum of ancient sea travel, snailing forward through barren landscapes, perhaps unknowingly in circles, constantly tempting one to ask, "have we been here before?" The story of the band's progress has been as persistently sedate as the music itself, with the now-signature sound of Christoph Clöser's tenor sax not actually entering the group until some eight years after their formation and two monolithic albums of guitar-led imaginary midnight movie soundtracks in 1994 and 1995.