“We do instrumental music that is too melodic and dreamy to be experimental, yet maybe too strange and, well, instrumental, to be pop.”
Transmissions from space
As Saroos, Florian Zimmer (of Iso68, Jersey and, recently, Driftmachine), Max Punktezahl (of The Notwist and Contriva) and Christoph Brandner (of Lali Puna and Console) imaginatively blur the lines between organic and synthetic. This trio is adventurous at heart but always maintains a certain type of accessibility and now has four albums that demonstrate this combination beautifully. The fourth album, Tardis—released this month on the colorful Alien Transistor imprint—takes the trio’s sound and style to a whole new level of creativity.
The trio is the main generating force on Tardis of course, but a few co-conspirators add to the album’s charm as well. To hold the production reins, the trio invited the renowned producer Tadklimp. Quirky synth activity, ethereal guitar circulations, deep basslines, elegant drum patterns and even a bit of banjo and hazy vocals assemble a spacey mixture with a seductive lo-fi quality and experimental electronic flavors. Ten eclectic and inviting transmissions from space. So daring, bizarre and detailed, yet so warm and accessible.
Well, the band was originally started by Florian and Christoph around 2004. Markus Acher (of the Notwist and one of the label’s curators) heard some early recordings and asked if they’d like to do a record for Alien Transistor which was quite encouraging to get things done. 2006—the first album came out with getting Max on board and since then we have released 4 albums, a 12” and a 7”. We do instrumental music that is too melodic and dreamy to be experimental, yet maybe too strange and, well, instrumental, to be pop.
We’re living spread all over Germany for several years now—in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich—so it’s kind of challenging to get together for recordings and touring, but it works quite well, as we know each other for quite a while now. Max is from Berlin and there he played in the instrumental band Contriva and since ‘Neon Golden’ was released he’s a member of the Notwist live band. Florian originally hailing from Bavaria, played in Lali Puna, Iso 68, and besides Saroos he’s busy with another project called Driftmachine on Mexican label Umor Rex. Christoph is from Bavaria as well, and a member of Lali Puna: He has also played in Tied & Tickled Trio, Console, Village Of Savoonga, Pelzig and many more bands from the indie scene around the Notwist.
The new album?
It is our 4th album, and of course we think it is our best so far. It’s pretty much influenced by Krautrock, italian and french movie soundtracks from the 70s, sixties psychedelia, nineties electronica / ambient music to name a few genres.
We have already worked with Odd Nosdam helping us producing our 2nd Album (See Me Not) and he became our 4th member during that time and we even toured with him. For ‘Tardis’ we asked Tadklimp to work as a producer for the album. He already mixed our previous album and we worked very well together so it was a logic step to get with him to a different level. So we had the luxury of totally focusing on music this time as he was taking care of the whole recording process.
No editing, not thinking about the computer—nothing—just playing, recording and, even better as we were developing ideas together with Tad then getting into arrangements as well. It was definitely one of the most fun and relaxed records we’ve ever done, and Tadklimp was one of the main reasons to get it done like this! So again—a new 4th member. We also feel that maybe it’s our most pop album so far.
Other influence where the Eurorack / modular synths which Florian brought over through his work with Driftmachine. The songs on the records before ‘Tardis’ often had a sample as initial idea and the working around it. This time we have samples as well and they are still an important influence, but the songs where done before the samples got kicked in.
We will be on a tour through Italy and France in April: for a few years now we have been going on tour by train and this had some influence on our music as well. Our stage setup is kind of semi electronic with the computer as clock for backing up with some sounds that we can’t play live.
There’s quite a bit of space for improvisation, but we play our pieces in a recognizable way. Gear we use: hardware samplers, some synths, drums, bass guitar and percussion, together with ableton we have quite some midi cables floating all over the stage to get all the machines make some noise.
On heavy rotation?
Rodinia: Dreamside / Drumside. Daniela Casa: Sovrapposizione Di Immagini. You and your dead metal friend (project of Cico Beck & Markus Acher which will be out on Alien Transistor later this year). Tenniscoats: Music Exists. African Head Charge: My Life in a hole in the ground. Cavern of Anti Mattern: Void Beats. Ultimate Painting: Green Lanes. Tomaga: Future Grotesk. Aba Gargando: S/T. Broadcast, all the beautiful reissues.