The Eclectic Blah Album – Track by Track (Part II)

(…continued from Part I)

The Last Days of Veedolkeller

When petrol company Veedol decided to tear down their building in the Harras region of München, the remaining tenants decided to use the occasion for a few weeks of party and concerts – paving the way for this

"Calm before the Storm" (aka the Rocksoff Attempt)
“Calm before the Storm” (aka the Rocksoff Attempt)

concert. With Erik on vacation, the resulting lineup was identical to The Ebersberg Engima minus the very Erik – and from a personnel standpoint, it’s also noteworthy that Jan performed this concert with fever and under heavy medication – resulting in what some think his best performance ever.

After the slow (but harmonically tricky) organ chords of Dreams of Hesse, first the rhythm section (Ralf on electronic percussion here) builds up a groove, before Jan enters with his lead part – the shout “Carlos” from the audience here says it all. This track, however, lives not only off Jan’s performance, but also of the interplay with the remaining musicians – listen how the bass and organ voicings build and adapt around Jan’s playing. This track also contains a shared percussion/drum solo by Ralf and Franz.

Another concert opener, The Porcupine opens what feels like a “side 2” of this album. Continuing the 70s vibe established with the preceding track, it’s a slow, progressive rock groove with state of the art polysynth pad, before Jan launches into a slow, soaring solo. True to the spirit of the sound, his solo moves seamlessly into a synth solo via a two-voiced passage, which then brings us to a homophonic theme in polysynth glory to end the track.

Fractal Dimension

This closing concert was, to me, so convining that I decided to disband the group afterwards – we now knew that it was possible to play catchy tracks on a strictly improvised basis.

Taking place in merge bar, a nice cocktail place in München’s town center, the group size was of course trimmed down to four again – next to Jan, Ralf and myself Thomas Würdinger on bass guitar.

This selection starts with Harvey Wallbanger – taking the so far more lounge-oriented sound at this concert into double time. After we start together on the beat, it’s synth chords on top of drums, before Thomas comes in with a truly heavy bass guitar. Jan and I continue to play short motifs off each other (in case of Jan, it’s a repeating chord progression and melody segment) with neat shifts of tonality, while Ralf and Thomas provide changes in the groove bed to play on. It gets dense at the end with me providing a realtime-recorded sample of Jan’s playing and triggering that against his own playing, on top of which a repeating cadenza takes us into an unisono ending as brief as the start.

Lazer, on the other hand, is more true to the lounge surroundings. This is another one of those tracks where not a lot happens – Ralf and Thomas establish a nice groove, I add some DX7 epiano chords, let the Q’s arpeggiator run, Jan adds chords, I play a short solo break, but the beauty lies in the detail – such as the chord voicing for that repeatedly transposed four-hit statement towards the end, or Jan’s playing towards the end, closing the tune like he openend it.

Reverse Engineering

The year after Eclectic Blah had folded, Flo Schönhofer of Salon Erna called me and asked if we would like to perform. I told him we didn’t exist anymore. He asked if I wanted to whip up something else. I decided to use a

Luke, Lene and yours truly reverse-engineering Salon Erna
Luke, Lene and yours truly reverse-engineering Salon Erna

set of loops from previous Eclectic Blah concerts, trigger them from the computer, add some synths, and add Luke on guitar to the equation – and decided to call it Reverse Engineering.

Driving Home Slowly really is a track to drive home the album. The ingredients are simple: take snare drum and bass drum from A Triptoed Opening  (by Ralf) and hihat from The Last Days of Veedolkeller (by Franz), add percussion from Nocturnal Emission (by Filzinho), a bass line and synth chords from Fractal Dimension (Thomas and myself), let a MC505 run arpeggiator patterns, and have Luke play along with an ebow. Slowly bringing down the tempo at the end in Ableton Live results in strange time stretching artifacts, hard-to-tame low frequencies and a nice ending to an album.

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