Genre: Berlin School
Released: November 2016
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
Electronic Music as a genre has had a very hard time since the 90’s when House Music & all its Techno offshoots proceeded to swallow just about every nook and cranny of Electronic Music. These days Electronic Music has become so synonymous with Dance that it is commonly known as EDM which is a shame as not all electronic music is related to Dance at all.
Real or Pure Electronic Music is a form where all (or the majority) of the sounds are sourced electronically and the palette us unashamedly synthesized. There aren’t samples trying to convince the listener that they are hearing a piano, strings, guitars, etc. as is so common in Soundtracks, Pop & New Age Music. Pure Electronic Music celebrates the idea of creating not only the painting but the paints that the art is made with.
Berlin School as exemplified by Tangerine Dream or Michael Hoenig was one of the only spaces that the House kids didn’t seem to try to take over despite it being an influence on the early Trance artists. Maybe because it is so overtly cold and cerebral an experience.
“On The Road” can definitely be classed as Berlin School as it holds well and truly enough of the elements with riffing ostinatos coupled with long flowing melodic lines all made with purely synthesized sounds.
I can’t tell you much about K.Markov as he says nothing about himself. When we did have some contact I recall him being somewhere like Croatia. This is not unexpected as synth music has been almost the exclusive preserve of people from deepest darkest Europe. For some reason the artform suits them both to make and listen to. People like myself or Larry Fast who make electronic music outside of Europe do it different.
What you get here are three pieces each clocking in over 20 mins in length. This is pretty typical and pieces under 20 mins in length can almost be viewed with suspicion in Berlin School circles. Too short and it seems like you are pandering to Pop or simply not trying hard enough. 22:30 was a common length as that was the safe playing time of one side of a vinyl record.
I’m not going to try to walk you through these tracks as you can hear them using the embed above (and I hope you are listening) but I can confidently say that “On the Road” completely nails the heart & soul of Berlin School as there are super cool pulsing sequences coupled with subtle sound effects and sweeps as well as melodic synth sounds that lead the listener through the pieces.
You don’t get a verse/chorus format but more of a thought evolving over time in a stream of consciousness sort of way. A little like Classical music but far more sedate. You either find it dull or you love it. I love it and K.Markov has managed to hit all the things we love about the form whilst adding something of his own. So often these records sound a bit like failed clones of obscure 70’s classics but K.Markov manages to add something of himself each time.
The more I listen to this record, the more I like it, the more I notice little bits & pieces that help build the whole as a magical space to be transported through.