Cologne-based musician Dominik von Senger spent the early 1980s onwards contributing principally as a guitarist to numerous records, including those by his own post-punk bands Dunkelziffer and The Phantom Band, which featured an assortment of Can alumni, including Jaki Liebezeit, Damo Suzuki and Rosko Gee. It’s been a good 24 years since von Senger released a full-length solo album under his own name (1995’s ‘The Second’), and this third album ‘Brüsseler Platz’ sees him going back through his archives to reclaim some previously ‘lost’ recordings from that era.
Taking its title from the Brüsseler Platz dwelling that acted as von Senger’s then musical base of operations, the two expansive tracks that comprise this collection see him going back through his extensive four channel reel recordings to select highlights and snapshots from a period where a veritable casting call of avante / experimental artists passed through his house, and the tape was always running. Indeed, the two tracks here, each running at around 18 minutes in length call to mind a mixtape more than anything else, with a stellar cast of contributors that includes Can’s Jaki Liebezeit and Reebop Kwaku Baah, saxophonist Richard Schneider, vocalist Josefa Mertens and pianist Jacky Horn.
The results prove to be as diverse and impressive as you might expect, often shifting rapidly between styles and influences. ‘A’ opens with the gruff tones of a ragga MC intoning “I drop a drum / I drop a dice” before surging forward into streamlined Italo-disco flavoured electro-pop as burbing bass sequences slide against noodling synths and zapping effects.
Just as you’re settling into the groove though, there’s a suddenly gear-change down into clattering psyche-rock drums and acid-fried vocals, before things sudden double-back again into delicate folky guitar strokes and loungey organ tones, the pitched-up vocals that jabber back and forth curiously recalling Madlib’s Quasimoto project. From there on in, there’s everything from children’s vocals over boogie-woogie piano and Afro-centric backing chants, to a Brazilian-fuelled punk-funk disco workout and eerie stripped-down musique concrete in store here, and perhaps surprisingly, pretty much all of it sticks.
If there’s one occasionally frustrating factor here, it’s that many of these tracks only just get a chance to settle in before they’re rapidly swept on in the mix. Whatever the case, from the sounds of things here, during the late seventies / early eighties, Dominik von Senger’s week beat most people’s year.