[Castles in Space, 2016]
Kl(aüs) is a project from Australian friends Stewart Lawler and Jonathan Elliott. I’ve just recently stumbled onto this group’s debut album, and took to this album immediately. With motorik beats, chugging bass synths, and gorgeous keys and orchestration overlaying bits of found sound and some additional odds and ends, this album fits nicely with the likes of Tangerine Dream, NEU!, Cluster, and Jean-Michel Jarre, while still maintaining a clearly defined sound of its own.
Where those artists’ albums can at times feel loose, meandering, or in some cases unpolished, Kl(aüs) is compact, deliberate, and focused throughout. These songs are driven by their underlying sequences, allowing the accompanying synths and additional effects to dance over the top. The songs remain rooted to the motorik aspects, working with a fully solidified foundation upon which additional instrumentation builds, layer upon layer, sometimes into beautiful, lengthy crescendos.
“Three Sheets” starts with such a sequence that never relinquishes its influence on the direction of the song until the very end, finally fading out in favor of gentle keys.
“Proof Portal” picks up where “Three Sheets” leaves off with soft strings surrounding a processed flute while hi-hat and a bass sequence slowly fade in. These touchstones of mid to late 70s electronica, including generous use of chimes, recall classic science fiction scores and works by Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, and Michael Stearns’ Planetary Unfolding.
The remainder of Kl(aüs) is much the same, however never approaching sameness to the point of being boring. The album is full of warm washes of beautifully-played synths and rhythmic sequences, with Lawler and Elliott in clear sync with one another. It’s an album best listened to actively and in full, but I’ve found that placing it on in the background is just as rewarding.
Since releasing this album, Kl(aüs) have produced a second LP (2020’s 2) and a live album, all for Castles in Space. The first two LPs have long since sold out, leaving people such as myself clamoring for repressings. As of this writing, there are still copies left of the live album, however. I expect that we’ll be hearing more from this group in the near future, and I am very much looking forward to it.
You can purchase the digital albums and additional merchandise on the band’s Bandcamp space: https://only1klaus.bandcamp.com/