Matthias Cingoez is the prolific multi-instrumentalist behind the Goettingen, Germany-based one-person-band Black Robert. Handling guitars, bass, drum arrangements and an array of tasteful keyboard and synth sounds, Cingoez has a stated aim of creating music evocative of film scores and the Kosmiche, or “krautrock” sound made famous by his native country. The combination is organic and natural, considering the influence that legends like Can, Popol Vuh, and Tangerine Dream have had on cinema, and that film makers like Herzog and Wim Wenders have inspired and added to the legacy of these artists.
The Kosmiche sound, mixing everything from Zappa-influenced prog and free jazz to sound collage and some of the earliest well-known examples of electronica, had a massive effect on future artists, perhaps most famously Brian Eno and David Bowie, not to mention Kraftwerk’s “Trans-Europe Express” becoming a standard sample in hip-hop. Like pioneers Dieter Moebius and Michael Rother, Cingoez deals in the kind of beat-driven, spacious ambient that deserves repeat listens and functions as well as background music as for active listening.
Black Robert has been carving out a niche for himself since the self-released Colony, the first of three excellent releases dropped in the short span of five months. Each album has been a well-crafted exploration of atmospheric layers, tasteful arrangements and effective use of minimalist percussion. His previous effort Alliance was a tense, at times foreboding affair, which mixed optimistic synth arpeggiation with darker tracks like “They Don’t Know Where I Am” and “Time Is of the Essence.”
An understated pattering of hand percussion and Black Robert’s signature minimal drum patterns underlie an airy, blissful synthesizer soundscape on “Automatic Headlights,” Lichtupe’s promising opener. Gorgeous, bell-like e-piano harmonies fill out “Traffic Light is Faulty”, an aural daydream that is reflective and foregoes a beat for background textures.
An album for long, introspective car rides, there’s no shortness of rainy day serenity on this release. The songs are upbeat but laid back, with plenty breathing room and uplifting qualities to assist the morning, afternoon, and evening commute. “Hunting Taillights” marks a change in tone for the album, more a spy-film chase scene than a leisurely stroll. It’s hard to guess what to expect from Black Robert in the future, but there are plenty of opportunities on the horizon for this prolific and evolving artist.
Favorite tracks: “Climb Up the Streetlight”, “Hunting Taillights”
Rating: Strongly Recommended
Dharnyk is a stan for the Seattle sound of the early 90’s and subsequent radio rock, but reviews ambient, noise and other genres. He creates music as Pink and Yellow.