Berlin Bulletin 1: Strange Forces

[Here's a new series of posts with music from unknowns, witnessed randomly upon going out in Berlin—provided the artist has a CD for sale after the show. First off is Berlin expat trio Strange Forces:]

Strange Forces: [title unknown] [mp3]
Strange Forces: «Fields of Aaru» [mp3]

The «healing power» of music is a cliché too old and prevalent to dignify with pooh-poohing. Nevertheless, it's easy to forget—amid all these music videos, viral YouTube campaigns, city billboards, stylists and blogs—that music can indeed channel spiritual currency. That there is music that's more than just the vehicle for one person's vanity, coupled with one company's greed.

I don't know what drives Brisbane, Australia's Strange Forces—perhaps they, too, merely want to fulfill some banal childhood dream of glitz and adulation—teenage dreams of cheap thrills and that ol' coke-pussy-validation triumvirate—rather than genuinely connect with something sincere through their music. But their live show certainly makes it sound as if they're serious about the spiritual possibilities in sound. Drenched in drones, reverb, fuzz, swirling melodies and scuzzy bass frequencies, this is transporting stoner music for the type of introspection forgotten by (or simply unknown to) most artists desperately styling themselves to make the scene.

And Strange Forces don't fit the hipster bill of electro/techno Berlin. The psychedelic trio plays something as untrendy as rock—space rock, to boot! Very uncool, but oh! so good… Toilet Guppies caught them by coincidence at Berlin's recently shut down Raum 18, expecting the noise fare common to this city, so caught unawares by Strange Forces' heady melodies and echoey, voluminous sound—a cocoon in which the mind curled up in a long-awaited foetal position.

So here are a couple of tracks from their first two, self-released efforts—one CD of band material that would have benefitted from a more adventurous producer/more competent (or less competent?) engineer, and one EP of «ambient» stuff that basically consists of instrumentals without live drums. (Apparently this is to showcase the band's talents to venues that, due to Berlin's public noise policy, don't allow drummers. Poor skinsman…)

Anyhoo, enjoy a swirling, computer-glitchy drone piece from their untitled ambient EP and the highlight from their equally untitled debut as a trio: a psych-summery sunkiss with a track title worryingly reminiscent of fantasy role-play or New Age Egyptianism («Fields of Aaru»?!), but that still delivers the goods, fear ye not. This is headphone music for a summer's day in the park, pure and sweet and smelling of death, not the petite one but the Big Sleep, a daydream of the Ancient Egyptian afterlife—«the fields of reeds.» This hypnotic song is a flash forward into triumphant jettisoning from this plane, the deathwish come good like an innocent and beautiful kind of homesickness when you're already on your way and all that's left is to wait. Sweet anticipation as even the patch of grass you're sprawled out on is just a vessel eventually carrying you along to the final station.

Time only goes in one direction, thank Ra…

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