Band: Perilymph | Album: Deux | Genre: Krautrock, Progressive rock | Year: 2019
From: Berlin, Germany | Label: Six Tonnes de Chair Records
For fans of: Brainticket, Vespero, early Föllakzoid
Germany has been at the epicenter of cosmic, experimental rock music that incorporates electronic elements since the early 1970s. The genre is called krautrock, after all. (The term was initially—rightly, in my view—rejected by German artists; the English music press invented the term in order to write off the movement.) Perilymph both adheres to and bucks this genre’s Germanness: this act is a one-man project based in Berlin, though the man behind it, Fabien de Menou, is French.
Regardless of whence Perilymph hails, Deux, this act’s second release, is a wonderful blend of psychedelia, progressive rock, and spacey textures.
The opening “Avec” is awash in reverbed vocals and lush synthesizers, and the simple drums push the song along in a steady, insistent way. There’s a hint of something spooky and sinister hiding just beneath the surface of this song, but it never fully rears its head. Perilymph deals in this sort of subtlety throughout the whole album. Where “Avec” drove forward with an anxious beat and big splashes of synth and guitar, “I’m Not Where” pares things down. It floats gently, with haunting vocals reverberating out over a simple acoustic guitar arpeggio. There is the occasional embellishment of psychedelic synthesizers, but most of the song sticks to bare-bones simplicity.
“I’m Not Where” closes with a few striking chords of fuzz guitar, segueing directly into “Sept”. “Sept” opens with semi-metallic riffage, though space-age synthesizers calm the song down. By the time the verses begin, “Sept” has become a meditative piece rife with Tangerine Dream and Brainticket influences. In classic krautrock fashion, the repetition strengthens the music’s impact, and the closing guitar solo revisits the song’s heavy opening moments.
Deux’s second half consists of the three-part “Le Voyage Atomique” suite. Part I opens with an airy yet rich synthesizer that reminds me of Vangelis in many ways. This association is eventually augmented by a twinkling guitar arpeggio and an energetic, jazzy rhythm section. Slight variations in the underlying synthesizers and flourishes from the bass keep this motorik-fueled movement highly engaging.
Following the triumphant finale of Part I, Part II acts as a table-setting interlude. It’s brief and tense and leads into the subdued sequenced synth of Part III. Atonal piano plinks and weird percussion keep the atmosphere close and disorienting. This pulsing, taut, synth-and-percussion movement is Perilymph’s best demonstration yet of their ability to make musical menace.
On Deux, Perilymph demonstrates that semi-electronic krautrock can still sound fresh and original in today’s musical landscape. It’s smart in its brevity: the 35 minutes of music here fly by without a wasted second. Deux is a great album, and I’d consider it a good entry point for someone with an interest in krautrock.