‘NEW WAVE’ IS PROBABLY THE BEST PHRASE for it. Not just because Tarwater – like contemporaries The Notwist, Kante and Kreidler – form part of an insurgent movement of weird, repetitive and sample-heavy German music. More because, in a thrillingly typecast post-rock obsession with plane surfaces, blank canvases and oblique discourses, Tarwater are obsessed with water.
‘Silur’ (the title refers to the Silurian Age, when the Earth was covered with – yup – water) is comprehensively soused. The atmosphere chill like wind across a lake, Bernd Jestram and Ronald Lippok (the two dapper manipulators of sound who comprise the ‘Water) here take an antiquated sampled orchestral arsenal soaked in record static and use it to indulge their love of liquid.
Together they prowl the frozen shores in winter and witness exhilarating dips in summer. Their music warm yet technically vigilant like, say, DJ Shadow’s, Tarwater’s individual and vaguely threatening atmosphere exists by juxtaposing their tunes with a deliberately frigid and scientific choice of words and vocal samples. [I]”A glass tube is lowered into the water,”[/I] announces a female American voice in ‘Seafront Cezanne’. [I]”The inside of the tube is discoloured by a special chemical preparation[/I].[I]”[/I] ‘Walk On By’, it’s not.
Ironically, though, for a band who extol the virtues of moisture in any location (from shoreline, to gleaming reservoir, to test tube) the effect is magnificently dry. The most obvious, slightly patronising reference point for this being Kraftwerk, the power of their lyrical understatement is enormous. Like the highpoint ‘The Water Sample’, where the ‘Water patrol an icy sampled tundra, remembering the beach. [I]”If you think about the beach/In the summertime”[/I], they observe, [I]”there’s an infinite amount of stuff”[/I]. Then there’s ’20 Miles Up’, a kind of ‘Eight Miles High’ for computer scientists, where Ronald observes [I]”drunken management types”[/I] coming on to the stewardesses. [I]”I’m thinking I’d like to tear out their skinny pink throats”[/I], he says, evenly.
‘Silur’ adds humanity to science, applies science to emotion, and wants to tear out the throats of middle management on airlines. It’s excellent. Like you always suspected about still waters, they run deep.