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Bernhard Wöstheinrich & Markus Reuter: Centrozoon, and the Redundant Rocker

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Together, Bernhard Wöstheinrich and Markus Reuter are Centrozoon, a band that has excelled for years at producing abstract ambience of an eclectic nature. Separately, the two musicians enjoy lively careers collaborating with numerous other talents. Wöstheinrich has worked with Ian Boddy, Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock, Conrad Schnitzler, No-Man singer Tim Bowness, Thorsten Niestrath, and Synapscape's Philipp Münch. While Reuter (who is also one-half of Tuner with King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto) has worked with Ian Boddy, Robert Rich, Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock, Nigel Mullaney, Steven Wilson, ‘Ramp, and Europa String Choir.

Here, we will examine a pair of recent releases that pair the two in extremely different modes...

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CENTROZOON: Lovefield (CD on Unsung Records

This release from 2009 offers 55 minutes of abrasive ambience.

Centrozoon is: Markus Reuter (on touch guitar) and Bernhard Wöstheinrich (on fm synthesizers, with algorithmic treatments and programming contributions by Tobias Reber. The recordings were mastered by ambient pioneer Robert Rich.

This ethereal music is vitalized by abrasive tonalities and guitar effects, producing a particularly toothy brand of ambience.

Erratic textures are established, generating a vaporous foundation that is swiftly and liberally seasoned by harsh electronic embellishments. Grating noises appear and ebb, as if intimidated by the fundamental strangeness of these tunes.

Guitar plays a vital role here, but hardly conventional guitar. The guitar notes are bent and twisted, sustains are looped back on themselves, grinding chords slide through the mix like razor blades cast across a field of ice. There are instances of traditional guitar virtuosity, but these occasions are suitably mired in the overall weirdness, becoming expressions of cohesion lurking in a churning pool of abstraction. A few tracks feature dazzling eruptions of blazing guitar, reminiscent of a flash of King Crimson amidst a cacophonic dose of Merzbow.

The counterpoint of experimental guitar and brooding electronics serves to induce a twitchy pastiche that will appeal to a diverse audience. On one hand, the glitchy nature of the music is often too melodic to be considered ilbient, while conversely the music’s harmonic calm is frequently agitated by its abrasive aspects, driving it far from normal ambient territories. Yet the balance struck by these characteristics spawns a curious charm that is often laced with surprising drama.

These compositions blend elements of crafty chaos and abstract structure, using an ambient realm as their canvas to create striking portraits of haunting beauty. The harmonics underlying these tracks often provide a lilting presence for the stark embellishments, resulting in mesmerizing attraction..

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THE REDUNDANT ROCKER: Heart (CD on Unsung Records

This release from 2009 offers 56 minutes of dynamic electronic pop.

The Redundant Rocker is Bernhard Wöstheinrich, with additional guitars and bass supplied by Markus Reuter.

Highly energized pop music comprising an abundance of sprightly electronics and imperious percussion with nimble effects crowding the mix.

This music features a versatile spread of electronics. Agile keyboards delineate high pinnacles and guttural rumblings, noble punctuations make frequent appearances and raucous embellishments impale moments with poignant tension. A tune can be flourishing one minute with crystalline keyboard sweeps, then suddenly be swamped by gutsy pulsations that evoke a rich drama with a tidal wave of entertaining density.

The percussion can be quite monumental, defining tempos of vibrant power that command the songs with their gusto. The rhythms are complex and varied, from pounding drums of dominance to snappy e-perc undercurrents.

The guitars sneakily slide into play. Sometimes obvious with searing pyrotechnic displays, sometimes disguising their chords with inventive treatments. The guitars function nicely in tandem with the keyboard themes, enhancing as they saturate everything with their clever riffs.

Basslines slither through the dense mix, generating a tectonic grumble that amply supports the melodies.

While there are no actual lyrical vocals, voices are utilized in processed form as auxiliary effects in some of these songs, lending an elusive human touch to the overall demonstrative music.

These compositions are awesome and compelling, quite a surprising contrast to Wöstheinrich’s usual fare of abstract ambience. These tunes are gripping and enthralling, often in a forceful manner that refuses to be ignored. Their strident nature is in-your-face, but in an enjoyable way, drawing blood without leaving scars.

An astounding array of instrumental songs that fuse pop and contemporary electronics to generate a relentless dose of exhausting tuneage.

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