Artist: Bohren & Der Club Of Gore
Album: Bohren For Beginners
Genre: Ambient / Doom Jazz
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Constant Fear 06:29
Maximum Black 07:41
Ganz Leise Kommt Die Nacht 08:23
Still Am Tresen 04:00
Black City Skyline 05:53
Kleiner Finger 07:48
Zombies Never Die 07:31
Catch My Heart 13:16
Mitleid Lady 10:32
Der Angler 06:54
Schwarze Biene (Black Maja) 08:13
Titel 2 13:12
Dandys Lungern Durch Die Nacht 05:05
Since 1992, Germany’s Bohren & der Club of Gore have made their own brand of dark, slow, jazz balladry for those who like their music “uneventful.” Though its musicians came from various hardcore punk bands, their coming together resulted in the collective decision to explore a noir-ish, late-night lounge-jazz quartet sound, wrapped in spooky ambient music and doomy atmospherics. The band has been stubborn in its development on nine previous albums and three EPs. Bohren for Beginners is not a “best-of,” but a carefully curated introductory selection — and an exhaustive one. Its 17 selections are spread over two discs totaling nearly two-and-a-half hours.
While one can’t credit “minimalism” proper in the Bohren sound, its snail-like pace and completely repetitive harmonic and rhythmic structures deliver the same deceptive notion of stasis. It’s so slow that it seems oppressive at first. It’s difficult to comprehend where one tune ends and another begins. But as the individual tunes develop, everything falls into place; the listener is gradually opens to the group’s carefully and seductively articulated modal ideas and then gets bound by them as if they were spells. One gets completely absorbed in the beauty of their darkness, loneliness, and isolation. Like the first Black Sabbath record, Bohren & der Club of Gore’s sound is its own universe; the incessant bleakness delivers a twisted bliss not unlike the one Charles Baudelaire expressed in Les Fleur Du Mal. Melodies are sickly sweet and sad, their beauty wrought via spare saxophone melodies, elegiac Rhodes piano, plodding, minimal basslines, and eerie Mellotrons and synths. Rhythm exists not to move things along, but to maintain the funereal stillness.
The album sequence offers three non-consecutive tracks from 2008’s Dolores, and two each from 2000’s Sunset Mission, 2014’s Piano Nights, 2005’s Geisterfaust, and 2011’s Beileid. For some reason, the two selections from 2002’s Black Earth (they’re classic) are placed next to one another. In this suffocating soundworld, it’s almost impossible to choose one selection over another, but the haunted lyricism in “Maximum Black,” “Zombies Never Die,” “Catch My Heart” (the only vocal track with Mike Patton guesting), and set-closer “Dandy’s Lungern Durch die Nacht” (from 1994’s Gore Motel), all manage to score individually. Disc two also features “Mitlied Lady” from the 2006 EP of the same name, as well as “Titel 2” from 1995’s Midnight Radio. In addition to providing an aural portrait of 20-plus years, Bohren for Beginners is also a historical document signifying the end of an era. Drummer Thorsten Benning left the band a trio; pianist/saxophonist Christoph Closer, keyboardist/guitarist Morten Gass and bassist Robin Rodenberg will alternately fill the percussion role from here on, both in the studio and on the stage. Bohren for Beginners more than suffices as an introduction — for most it will be enough. For fans it will be another exercise in total submission to the world of shadows.
Review by Thom Jurek