Boomkat Product Review:
Thomas Brinkmann acutely highlights the industrial connections that long begat synth-pop and electronic dance music in hotspots such as Düsseldorf, Manchester and Sheffield with his fascinating recordings of old weaving looms and their clanky mechanical rhythms.
Perhaps the last word in techno deconstruction and archaeology, the 21 tracks of ‘Raupenbahn’ loop techno and rhythm-driven machine music back to its source; in the workshops and mills of the industrial revolution. The album effectively looks to a time when massively complex weaving looms and human workers were practically slaved to the emergent class of capitalists, and the ways of the modern world - from finance to the structures of everyday life - were arguably and almost immovably established. On another level, he also looks back to the advent of modern computing and Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, whose invention was quickly taken up and advanced by Ada Lovelace (daughter of Lord Byron) and applied to intricate innovations such as Jacquard weaving that were vital steps on the road to the ubiquitous presence of computers, and by extension, electronic music and techno.
These recording are the kind that will get techno, electronica, and noise purists of all stripes gnashing their teeth with glee. Using a vintage Neumann KM 184 Stereo Microphone set, Brinkmann captured the sounds of machines in Germany, Poland, UK, and the Czech Republic to purely relish in the sound of automation which has clothed and fed folk for hundreds of years. It’s really no stretch of the imagination to hear how the trampling clank of ‘Henry Livesy BO (Blackburn / GB)’ would have lived on in Lancashire’s pivotal early ‘90s raves, which were often held in disused mills that once housed looms, and likewise to hear a link between the offset loops of ‘Jean Güsgen BO (Dülken / D)’ resonate with the whirring physics of Kraftwerk (who also supposed James Brown as the factory floor manager, and Detroit’s factory lines as part of the same industrial complex).
Most brilliantly, the recordings are all presented as they were made, with no overdubs or edits, leaving ‘Raupenbahn’ as a vivid example of what Cottonopolis heroes Gescom called “The Sounds of Machines Our Parents Used’, only taken to the Nth degree, and we’re sure it will remain a vital touchstone for generations looking at the link between labour and machines, entertainment and recreation, gender and class, science and technology that make up electronic dance music.