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Friedman & Liebezeit – Secret Rhythms 5


R-4356059-1362677186-2030.jpegLabel: NonplaceRating: 8.5/10

You don’t get musical collaborations better suited than Bernd ‘Burnt’ Friedmann and Jaki Liebezeit. Drummer for the legendary krautrock band Can, Liebezeit is one of Germany’s foremost innovators of the instrument and has spent the last decade eschewing traditional drum set-ups for a more freeform, intuitive approach to beat making. Whereas Friedmann, who has been putting out jazzy and experimental electronica for well over two decades, is similarly regarded as something of a master in his own field. As such, the duo’s collaborative ‘Secret Rhythms’ albums, which they first beginning making eleven years ago,  have become something of a treat for those in the know.

The ‘Secret Rhythm’ albums have always sounded more like highlights from long studio jam sessions, and the fifth in the series is no different. A journey through experimental drum patterns, krautrock and electronica, all sprinkled with future jazz and dub flourishes, it present a meandering  yet cogent conglomeration of both men’s musical identities.

The album’s cryptically benign numerical titles, such as 105-14 or 120-12, suggest that the album should only be approached as a whole rather than on a track-by-track basis. And this is largely true, the record is its most evocative and impressive as the grand sum of its working parts. The album’s odyssey of tribal drumming, curveball time signatures and instrumental flourishes make most sense when enjoyed as part of an over-arching narrative. What’s more, at a slender 34-minutes running time, it’s easily digested in one sitting. Yet, this gestalt effect never comes at the expense of the track’s individual merit. From the wistful dub melody of 120-12 to the hazy and summery trip-hop conclusion of 130-09, there are no lack of standout moments locked within each individual movement.

Furthermore, it is the sense of improvisation beating at the heart of the album, the sense of two musicians responding to one another in real time, that imbues the record with a veracity and liveliness that makes this not another jazz-tronica coffee table album but something rather special. Warm, innovative and with more depth than your average downtempo release, Secret Rhythms 5 is destined for cult success. 


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