Splashdown

by Fanger & Kersten

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Reviews:
Fanger + Kersten must've been relaxing poolside while the debate over whether spacemusic deals with outer space or inner space raged on in internet chatrooms and email discussion groups. On their album Splashdown, the duo pays no attention to either of these two propositions and takes their concept back to the ocean, reading the listener on an extra-terrestrial water related odyssey of epic proportions.
The energy level of the music is always positive and can swell quite high. Ever evolving analogue rhythms propel the music as enigmatic electronic textures and chords wash over us. A synth choir drifts in with the gentle dynamics of the evening tide as we imagine the deep blue/green of a rolling underwater realm. Songs and movements crossfade easily from one wave to the next and often the music leads us to some distant horizon. This music comes in the wake of the Berlin school, but Fanger + Kersten have weighed anchor and set sail from the coastline. They've made the music their own and Splashdown an enjoyable and fulfilling listening experience. - Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END

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Eccelsi paladini dell'elettronica intelligente dal retrogusto dance, in questa avventura sottomarina dai connotati sexy, riescono amantenere il controllo con irresistibili loops & beats. L'energia cresce fra stupendi sweeps e piani elettrici dalle sfumature funky, per attraversare, poi, momenti compositivi molto vicini alla scuola berlinese, con sequencing ed atmosfera. Vi è addirittura un episodio dance-oriented di synth-pop vocale. Un album distante dalla sfera di interesse per molti ascoltatori convenzionali di synth-music. Un ibrido fra il Jarre più techno-dance e l'electro-pop degli Air, concentrandosi anchesu suoni digitali astratti, echi e sequenze random. Un lavoroveramente atipico, prodotto in maniera eccellente, con texturesonore immaginifiche, sempre attuali e ballabili..(Fabrizio De Latoulière, Neural Online)

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The new Fanger & Kersten release contains all the EM elements to make it a classic of the genre. The long rhythmic spatial excursions blend beautifully with crisp sequences and strong melodic hooks to make it a magic carpet ride of sound that will have your head trippin'. In terms of EM 2001, there are few releases better than this concoction. (www.eurock.com)

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Thomas Fanger and Michael Kersten have outdone themselves this time. They have always excelled at intelligent electronic music with a dance beat and tongue firmly planted in cheek. Not only do they reprise their marvelously quaint picture of themselves in spacesuits from the cover of their last album, "Interkosmos," they are joined by pill-taking aliens and naked mermaids, with splashes of screaming green and pink across the CD booklet. It's an underwater sci-fi sex adventure of the most fun and enjoyable kind. A brief talking intro has the aliens perhaps gaining our trust using drugs, then maintaining control with irresistible loops and rhythms in "Alien Vocabulary." The energy builds up, peaking with wonderful sweeps and funky stabbing electronic pianos. "Water Theme (Part 1)" has a progression of notes that reminds me just a bit of "Stranger" from Ron Boots and friends CD "Joie de Vivre." This is much closer to pure Berlin school than Fanger & Kersten usually get, and it's very well done, with crisp sequencing and just the right layers of atmospherics. Next comes a very dance-oriented synth-pop vocal piece, "Autumn Kiss." At first I wasn't sure about this one at all, but it's really growing on me. Even if you don't like it, it's easily skipped, one of the shortest tracks. Heavily enhanced male and female vocals play off each other for those few minutes. Next come three longer tracks that make up over half the disc. They open things up a bit here in terms of the musical exploration. Gone for the most part are the beats, allowing alien gurgling electronics to bounce around aimlessly for awhile, then a really cool, gentle sequencer pattern perks up "Scary Waters." Include a rhythmic bass line, and it adds up to another winner. Next comes the 22-minute "Watersign," which features softly rolling waves and melting choirs. Ah, but it just wouldn't be right without more infectious loops. They begin about halfway through, but rather than building, they keep a level intensity, just enjoying the relaxed pace. It is very cool and hypnotic. The energy picks up again with "Alien Waters," though the whole album maintains a fairly laid back, easygoing style. This atypical restraint from Fanger & Kersten pays big dividends with perhaps their most enjoyable disc to date. Highly recommended (2001 (C) Phil Derby, Sequences)

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This is some kind of major concept album, opening with alien voices abducting our duo of musical heroes and setting off, on "Alien Vocabulary", with almost ten minutes of swirling phasey strings, randomly bubbling sequences, cheesy drum machine patterns and eventually a techno beat which will immediately remove this album from the sphere of interest of many conventional synth music listeners. What we're looking at here is some kind of hybrid of Jean-Michel Jarre in his more recent techno dance mode, the French electro pop band Air, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, and the music that plays between the schools programmes on Channel 4. On "Water Theme" the Jarreisms are even clearer, with sequences looping and spilling over one another, while on "Autumn Kiss" there's a vocoded vocal (as well as a cheesy bass line) which definitely puts us in Air and Yellow Magic Orchestra territory. "Scary Waters" is something of an epic at over 14 minutes, concentrating on abstract digital sounds, panning echoes, and eventually a randomly squirting sequence like something off Klaus Schulze's "Picture Music". "Watersign" is even longer at 22 minutes - again starting randomly, later building up a mid-paced echoed sequence under smooth, droning chords. "Alien Waters" is slower and more melodic, and some of the overlaid sounds are much more sophisticated than on the run of the mill synth album, with a lot of filtering, harmonising, panning and vocoding going on (plenty for the Nord Modular synth to do here). But there's more concentration on gentle sequencing than on any melody or structure, while the closing track goes quite the opposite way, re-working "Water Theme" with the aid of a heavy metal guitar and a bizarre wobbly tubular bell melody - it sounds like a very conscious effort to end with one of the crowd-pleasers Jean Michel Jarre often uses. Overall, then, this is a highly unusual album - excellently produced and with some highly imaginative sounds and textures, but also incorporating something to offend almost everyone (vocals, techno drums, a bit of metal guitar) and so maybe out of place in the very insular world of synthesizer music. (Mark Jenkins, Ampmusic) 4 from 5 (**** Four Stars - an excellent album of its kind)

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Hmm, not sure about the packaging. Day-glo colours, female computer graphic, a bit like Barbie on acid.
Well, we start with 'Planet Intro', 44 seconds of what sounds like an excerpt from "Plan 9 from Outer Space" - ie Sci-Fi "B" (or should that be "Z"?)movie territory. Bizarre to say the least. 'Alien Vocabulary' then kicks in, and a semblance of normal service begins to emerge. Ethereal femalevox, a catchy tune followed by a strong rhythm. The is some middle-eight variance, but at 9 and a half minutes this track does out-stay itswelcome rather - 5 minutes would have been fine.
'Water Theme (Part 1)' start with classic 80's style wispy pads and a syncopating sequence, somehow rather reminiscent of Paul Ward. Itdevelops for 5 minutes when things take a sharp course alteration, the weirdness factor rises with discordance higher on the agenda. Strange butgood. Now then. 'Autumn Kiss' follows. I've heard this album at least 6 times now, and I still can't make up my mind whether this is an appealing,infectious slab of synth pop - or an annoyingly twee escapade which demands the sledgehammer approach. Depends on my mood, but the tweefactor seems to be gaining the upper hand.For me 'Scary Waters' should open the album, with some great atmos forming the first sections of the track (some effects sound remarkablysimilar to Nodens Ictus in 'Club Dog' form), followed by expert synth work at the 5 minute mark. The rhythm then start to build in the minuteswhich follow but it peters out in to weirdness at the 10 minute mark, though some sequence interplay does re-emerge in the latter sections of thepiece. At 14 minutes we merge seamlessly into the 22 minute 'Watersign'. Again a fair helping of atmos is followed by lighter synth work, and it'sa full 8 minutes (22 minutes when combined with the previous track) before some serious sequencing comes to the fore - but it is worth waiting for,showing the style and skill we have come to expect. Slightly reminiscent of TD's 'Love on a Real Train' actually. And it lasts for almost the rest ofthe track, 14 minutes of sequencer subtleties. Cool man.'Alien Waters' takes over, another seamless bridge making this a truly epic none stop electronic ride. Again it's sequencer dominated, but it'ssubtlety rather than "in yer face" dynamics which are served up - very effective all the same. Finally 'Water Theme (Part 2)' ends with grandioseguitar refrains backed by melodic synths - excellent, the only blemish is the percussion which sounds fresh from a Casio calculator .For me this album only really gets going from track 5 - from then we get a 50 minute epic of moody electronics and masterful, largely laid back,sequencing. Certainly moments did remind me of TD's 'Risky Business', chill out rather than "in yer face", on the whole this is a definite "thumbs up". (GG, Neu Harmony)

>>>
This is some kind of major concept album, opening with alien voices abducting our duo of musical heroes and setting off, on "Alien Vocabulary", with almost ten minutes of swirling phasey strings, randomly bubbling sequences, cheesy drum machine patterns and eventually a techno beat which will immediately remove this album from the sphere of interest of many conventional synth music listeners.What we're looking at here is some kind of hybrid of Jean-Michel Jarre in his more recent techno dance mode, the French electro pop band Air, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, and the music that plays between the schools programmes on Channel 4. On "Water Theme" the Jarreisms are even clearer, with sequences looping and spilling over one another, while on "Autumn Kiss" there's a vocoded vocal (as well as a cheesy bass line) which definitely puts us in Air and Yellow Magic Orchestra territory."Scary Waters" is something of an epic at over 14 minutes, concentrating on abstract digital sounds, panning echoes, and eventually a randomly squirting sequence like something off Klaus Schulze's "Picture Music". "Watersign" is even longer at 22 minutes - again starting randomly, later building up a mid-paced echoed sequence under smooth, droning chords. "Alien Waters" is slower and more melodic, and some of the overlaid sounds are much more sophisticated than on the run of the mill synth album, with a lot of filtering, harmonising, panning and vocoding going on (plenty for the Nord Modular synth to do here). But there's more concentration on gentle sequencing than on any melody or structure, while the closing track goes quite the opposite way, re-working "Water Theme" with the aid of a heavy metal guitar and a bizarre wobbly tubular bell melody - it sounds like a very conscious effort to end with one of the crowd-pleasers Jean Michel Jarre often uses.Overall, then, this is a highly unusual album - excellently produced and with some highly imaginative sounds and textures, but also incorporating something to offend almost everyone (vocals, techno drums, a bit of metal guitar) and so maybe out of place in the very insular world of synthesizer music.

>>>
Thomas Fanger und Michael Kersten (auch als Mind-Flux bekannt) fingen Ende der 70er an Musik zu machen. Ihre bisher letzte CD "Splashdown" ist fast schon ein Konzeptalbum geworden, dessen instrumentale Themen sich um Wasser und Außerirdische drehen. "Splashdown" bedeutet laut den Musikern in diesem Fall Wasserung eines Raumschiffes. Gelegentlich rhythmisch und tanzbar, wartet die Musik des Duos jedoch meistens mit Elektronik-Elementen auf, die für Anfang der 80er typisch waren, sprich relativ diszipliniertes Musizieren, mit Melodielinien zur Sequenzerbegleitung. Im Falle von Fanger & Kersten wird dieses noch um Orb-ähnliche, "unmusikalische" Effekte erweitert. "Alien Vocabulary" kommt zuerst mit gelungenen melodischen Einfällen, im weiteren Verlauf tauchen jedoch weniger interessante poppige Akkordmotive auf. "Water Theme (Part 1)" beginnt hell und positiv, der Hörer fühlt sich ans Meer versetzt. Gegen Ende des Stückes verfinstert sich die Stimmung, etwas Spannung kommt auf. Überraschend, zum Rest des Albums nicht unbedingt passend, gibt es hier mit "Autumn Kiss" einen Techno-Pop-Song, ein Stück von Gian Luca. "Scary Waters" erfüllt klanglich anfangs was der Titel verspricht. Unheimlich-bedrohliche Soundwelt wird hergezaubert, die jedoch nach kurzer Zeit versöhnlicheren Passagen weicht. (Thomas Fangers Satz: "unser Raumschiff ist jetzt auf einem fremden Wasserplaneten gelandet" könnte sich hierauf beziehen). "Watersign" beginnt mit Wassergeräuschen und Sounds, die an Walgesänge erinnern. Damit kommen getragene, ambient-artige Klänge zum Vorschein. Nach kurzer Zeit erscheinen jedoch wieder rhythmische Akzente, die allmählich intensiver werden, dazu gibt es dem angepaßte, obsessive Sequenzermuster. "Alien Waters" wartet neben obengenenannten Strukturen mit entfremdeten Stimmen auf, dieses begleitet vom Kraftwerk-ähnlichen Rhythmus. "Water Theme" bringt zu den Keyboardteppichen und zu dem seltsam stumpf klingenden Rhythmus Gitarrensolos von Andrew Rodger. Ein elektronisches Album mit ziemlich origineller konzeptioneller Gesamterscheinung. (Siggy Zielinski, babyblaue-seiten.de)

>>>
Fanger und Kersten, vielleicht immer noch besser bekannt als Mind-Flux, haben sich ungewohnt viel Zeit mit diesem Album gelassen. Weit mehr als 1 Jahr ist seit ihrer letzten regulären CD "Interkosmos" vergangen, zwischenzeitlich nur einmal durch ihre Best-Of-Collection "Collectors Edition 1" unterbrochen. Dabei sind die beiden Berliner ihrem Stil weitgehend treu geblieben. Dank ihres schier unerschöpflichen Kreativ-Potentials klingen Thomas Fanger und Michael Kersten deshalb immer noch frisch und unverbraucht wie eh und je.
Ihr musikalisches Selbstverständnis hat nach wie vor seine Wurzeln in den analogen Elektronikschöpfungen vieler Interpreten der 70er und 80er Jahre. In einer bemerkenswert gelungenen Aufarbeitung wird dieses Thema von den beiden Musikern mit einer gleitend schwungvollen, bisweilen tanzbaren Komponente gekoppelt und mit immer wieder neuen Klangideen klug und detailiert durchgearbeitet.
Die beiden 9-minütigen Titel "Alien Vocabulary" und "Alien Waters" am Anfang und Ende dieser CD, sind durch einen erfrischend groovelastigen Beat gezeichnet und geben diesem Album einen flotten dynamischen Rahmen. Hohen Wiedererkennungswert prägt "Water Theme Part 1", das in seiner melodischen Ausgestaltung unwillkürlich Erinnerungen an TD´s "White Eagle" ("Mädchen auf der Treppe") hervorruft - Geschmackssache. Die beiden kurzweiligen Stücke "Water Theme Part 2" und "Autumn Kiss" sind dann für Fanger und Kersten vollends untypisch, können aber insgesamt betrachtet getrost vernachlässigt werden.
Wie schon auf den früheren Alben zeigen die beiden Künstler ihre wahre Stärke vor allem in den langen wunderbar akribisch und einfallsreich ausgetüftelten Kompositionen. Neben den beiden eingangs genannten "Alien"-Titeln faszinieren ganz besonders die beiden ausladensten Aufnahmen dieser CD, "Scary Waters" (14:23) und "Watersign" (22:21), durch eine bewundernswert nuancierte und feingliedrig durchstrukturierte Arbeit. Unabdingbare Voraussetzung ist jedoch wieder einmal das genaue Hinhören (vergl. auch o.g. CD "Interkosmos"), denn die mit einem gleichmäßig geradlinigen Midtempo-Rhythmus ausgestatteten Klangschöpfungen könnten den beiden Akteuren leicht als langatmig stereotype bzw abwechslungsarme Dauer-Beschallung ausgelegt werden. Doch die mit diszipliniertem Tempo unbeirrbar vorantreibenden Klangstrukturen sind als vielschichtiges, gründlich durchkonstruiertes Soundgeflecht konzipiert. Eine sich in ihrer Textur permanent verschiebene, gut durchdachte Präzisionsarbeit, die insbesondere beim längsten Stück durch das sich kaleidoskopartig verändernde Gesamtgefüge eine stimulierende Wirkung erzeugt. Die stringenten minimalistischen Tendenzen werden jedoch durch die leichte und unverkrampfte Spielweise der beiden Musiker kompensiert und ergeben ein rundes, durchweg lebendiges Hörvergnügen.
Bleibt zu hoffen, dass diese beiden Künstler ihre fruchtbare Zusammenarbeit noch lange fortsetzen werden und ihre kreativen Fähigkeiten auch weiterhin so hervorragend zu nutzen wissen. (Stephan Behn)

credits

released November 1, 2000

All tracks written and produced by Thomas Fanger & Michael Kersten except Autumn Kiss: Music and lyrics: Gian Luca. Recorded 2000. Vocals on track 4: Luna B. Guitars on track 8: Andrew Roger.

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Manikin Records Berlin, Germany

Elektronische Tonsignale aus Berlin.

Manikin Records, founded by Mario Schönwälder 1992 in Berlin, Germany.
Featuring the music from Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder, Fanger & Schönwälder, Filter-Kaffee and solo projects.
Our music ranges from "Berlin School" to fresh modern electronic sounds.
We love to produce CDs with outstanding music, fine packings and selected art works.

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