Release Date: Sep 13, 2011
Record label: Bureau B
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The phrase “scandalously neglected” might have been invented for Tarwater. Since the mid-1990s, the duo has made beguiling, slithering, treacle-funky, avant-garde, robotic music—outside the mainstream, with the consistent focus of someone working on a spacecraft with which to exit this planet (as if inspired by the finale of A Canticle For Leibowitz). Parts of Inside The Ships might fit such a vision, and the album is among the group’s best releases, pulling back, as it does, from the mid-range fuller song style of The Needle is Travelling to the quirkier world they have inhabited on some of their finest songs: “Seven Ways To Fake A Perfect Skin”, “To Describe You”, “Imperator Victus”, “Metal Flakes”, and “All of The Ants Left Paris”.
Tarwater's continual evolution into something other than what it was before, however subtle each individual step might be, proceeds as ever on 2011's Inside the Ships, the group's 11th full-length. If the band's mix of electronic-heavy arrangements and distanced singing is clearly a sonic stamp, "Photographed' begins on such a tense, ominous note that it's hard to hear it as anything but a challenge to the listener not to simply take the results as is, but to engage with the release. Songs like "Radio War," with clattering, hollow percussion suddenly added on top of the core electronic throb and punch, or the distorted electronic voice and almost martial march of "Get On" further play on the sense of there being no need or desire for this being "just" another Tarwater release.
Pop, but perhaps only in the minds of its German creators. Martin Longley 2011 Berlin’s Tarwater duo started playing together in 1995, the same year that To Rococo Rot formed. Ronald Lippok was a member of both acts, and in Tarwater he was joined by Bernd Jestram. This is their 11th studio album, and at almost 36 minutes, it’s short but effectively compact.
Although it can be wrong to lump together and describe a music scene from one nation, particularly when its artists might be spread across several cities, record labels and generations, sometimes when collective traits are highlighted in a positive light it can be considered acceptable. In terms of the German electronic and experimental fraternity, which stretches its origins back to the late-‘60s at least, it seems like there is indeed a common and shared capacity for longevity, rejuvenation and imagination. Certainly, the elder statesmen dispersed amongst the Kraftwerk, Can, Neu!, Cluster et al.