Album ReviewsEclipse ReviewsReviews

Eclipse Review: Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Geisterfaust

artist: Bohren & Der Club of Gore
release: Geister­faust
format: CD
year of release: 2005
label: Won­der
dur­a­tion: 57:44

Why this par­tic­u­lar album as Even­ing of Light’s first eclipse review, you might ask. At first sight, Geister­faust is an odd one out, com­pared to most of the music we (shall) dis­cuss at the site. Still, I believe this record expresses bet­ter than many oth­ers what EoL is all about. The Ger­man quar­tet Bohren & Der Club of Gore has been a unique band in the European under­ground for almost fif­teen years. They are char­ac­ter­ised by many as play­ing ‘doom jazz’, a descrip­tion that I do not wholly agree with, but good altern­at­ive does not present itself either. Yet, the link to jazz is espe­cially on this album a very thin one, and moreover, Geister­faust is slower and calmer than your avar­age doom (metal) band. A cer­tain dark ambi­ent atmo­sphere is definately present here, but the dif­fer­ences with typ­ical ambi­ent artists and sounds are large. Let’s just say that Bohren is dark, exper­i­mental and ori­ginal, which sim­ul­tan­eously answers the ques­tion from the begin­ning of the review.

Besides rel­ev­ance to the theme of the site, qual­ity is one of the require­ments for being eli­gible for an eclipse review. It’s this qual­ity I’ll be dis­cuss­ing now. For those who are unfa­mil­iar with Bohren, the music is not very hard to describe, des­pite the troubles with genre-labeling: Long, instru­mental songs, con­sist­ing of drums, double-bass, mel­lo­tron and sax­o­phone. All in a relaxed to extremely slow tempo, some­times empty-sound­ing, but a lot of dark, some­what urban-dystopic atmo­sphere. As far as I know, this music has never been used for film, but I’m con­vinced that some time in the future there’ll be a suc­ces­ful com­bin­a­tion of Bohren and some­thing film noir-like.

This feel­ing has been main­tained on Geister­faust, but music­ally this album devi­ates rel­at­ively strongly from its pre­de­cessors, Sun­ser Mis­sion and Black Earth. The sax­o­phone is prac­tic­ally absent, and the songs are just a tad more ‘empty’ than before. This is expressed best in the open­ing track “Zeigefinger”, a colos­sus of over twenty minutes, and in my opin­ion the quint­es­sen­tial Bohren track. Two themes are explored on an excru­ci­at­ingly slow (around 10 BPM!) tempo. It seems a bit too much, but it works all the bet­ter, and this is simply one of the most omin­ous tracks I’ve ever heard. After this, over a third of the album has passed, and we’re given a short break with “Dau­men”, a calm mel­lo­tron solo. “Ringfinger” en “Mit­telfinger” con­tinue the dark atmo­sphere from the first song for another twenty minutes, until the end presents itself in the form of “Kleiner Fin­ger”. This clos­ing track sounds like a clos­ing track should sound, although it’s hard to describe what makes it so. A rel­at­ively uplift­ing melody is picked up in the last three minutes by – there it is – the sax­o­phone. An end­ing for an album the leaves many oppor­tun­it­ies for the future.

This is a very spe­cial album with a theme that is as obscure as it is well imple­men­ted. A ‘ghost fist’, five fin­gers, five petals on a flower, five songs. A mas­ter­piece of min­im­al­ism.

Reviewed by O.S.