Artist: J.R. Plankton
Album: Neon

Released: 27 January 2012
Label: Karoke Kalk

Just like Kraftwerk, J.R. Plankton (Robert Ohm and Jens Strüver) is creating music to precisely fit in with its own time. Less cerebral than their predecessors the release Neon (43'59") is more interested in the beat than in its meaning. The same raw rough-edged style found on early Neu! and Cluster LPs is present, but this duo contains a fascinating contradiction - Neon is a fun five pieces of music that are also serious. As their tempos swing instead of stutter, electro-voices calmly whisper and sampled drum loops run on in mesmerizing and seductive beats, J.R. Plankton may come off as more sonically accomplished than the pioneers of contemporary Electronic Music. Thankfully they include enough distortion, jagged tones and coarseness to alleviate the digital flatness experienced by other modern soundsmiths. Overtly synthetic, Neon is impressive in how wide an arc it swings. From its catchy mechanistic, minimalistic opening track, "Musique Electronique" to the trance-like drumming, fluttering arpeggiations and growling synth drones on "City Jungle" this album creates distinctive energy moods on each of its five tracks. At about the halfway point is "Sundance", a robo-disco single destined to rock starship lounges and off-world dancefloors. The last two tracks are the dreamy detours that pull Neon well into STAR'S END territory. Slowly building and burning "Nakamura" and "Regen" chug, rumble and rattle their way into interesting layers of echo pulse patterns, pumping bass and anthemic synthesizer themes. The sweeping and swelling sounds crackle within an aura of modeled electrical current. Winding out into the deep down of blackening space, Neon seems more to pay homage to the classics of Electronic Music, than it does worship their ashes.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   27 April 2012

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