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French trio Veik plunder the kosmische musik of the past while sounding invariably modern

"Surrounding Structures"

Release date: 30 April 2021
7/10
Veiksurroundingstructuresart
28 April 2021, 07:37 Written by Chris Todd
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After a spike in the use of kosmische sounds across the mainstream indie landscape a decade or so ago, krautrock stylings have once again returned to the underground, muting into all kinds of fascinating strands resulting in several albums of note, especially in Europe.

From the modern day Black Sabbath-isms of French power trio Slift, the lysergic grind of Sweden’s The Janitors & the electronic psych thrusting of German's Flying Man on Moon, and Camera, all have recently released essential albums for those who like to zone to the drone.

Add Surrounding Structures, the debut by this French trio to that list of must hears. Over ten tracks they colour their sound in various shades of bleak. The murky electronica and muted synths of "Political Apathy" recall Cluster at their most disciplined. Freeform mood-pieces such as ‘Honesty’ channel the sound of Suicide, especially in the oblique clipped vocal delivery of Boris Collet which sits socially awkwardly alongside the baritone sound of Ian Curtis and Nico.

Though their sound is by default lowkey and minimalist, they’re unafraid to plunder from other styles to create something fuller bodied. "Chateau Guitar" uses the slow build structure of techno to create a slow build piece; beginning with the static throb of electronics, a looped guitar riff and hesitant percussion, all three textures rise in intensity til eventually colliding in a glorious mess - distorted, sampled yelped vocals smattered over the noise before swiftly stripping back into nothing.

They successfully dabble in ambient oddities ("Surrounding structures"), and Beak influenced synthtronic workouts ("Chullachaqui") with ease. "Difficult Machinery" comes from the same place as early Stereolab at their most obtuse, while ‘Life Is A Consuming Experience’ ramps up the dystopic sound-scaping, sugaring the grime with beautifully warm analogue synthesizer sounds.

With other excursions into IBM, darkwave and angular post-punk, Surrounding Structures succeeds where other modern-day krautrock albums fail in being unafraid to venture far from the genre for influences and applying them throughout thus achieving that balance between reverence for the past, while remaining relevant and of the now.

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