Germany’s Klaus Layer releases his second full length LP on Redefinition Records…
For The People Like Us begins placidly enough, floating in on a nimbus of light woodwind and strings, but don’t be fooled, this isn’t a delicate, boutique beat tape from Europe; the beats here most definitely go thump-thwack, not pit-pat. Not that there is anything wrong with the latter, it has it’s time and place and all that, but those who like a substantial momentum of weight in their drum kicks will react well to this album. Jaw-drop, screw-face, head-nod, beard-stroke – whatever you do – bet on it happening a good few times here.
My first such bug-out-wig-flip moment came with ‘Kool aka Resurgent Branch’. Maybe your ears need to have been calibrated in a certain era for the hit, I don’t know, but Klaus simply nails it. The drums are tough, the air in the hi-hat is precise, and the bass lines are thick.
On bass lines, the album carries a characteristic muffled quality, as if you were walking past the subterranean Berlin club its pulsating from. At other times it gets even denser, almost nautical, as if you were bumping it one hundred fathoms deep in the Red October. ‘No Pantomime’’s in particular is swollen and villainous, compounded by drums that stomp with a heavy shod, its an absolute stand-out moment. ‘No Joke’ takes similar constructs but re-formulates them into something more dexterous and volatile; more controlled-explosions than percussion.
The album does have its mellower moments, and ‘Coming To Your World’ and ‘Watching Fireflies’ are easily the most infectious. The latter in particular is easily amenable to hours on loop. It’s an ingenious reprise and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be wracking your grey matter as to what exactly its a reprise of. Once you get it though, you’ll be rewarded with a huge grin and a new-found appreciation for it.
For The People Like Us ends on an interesting note with ‘Symbol of Tomorrow’, in that its perhaps the one track on the album, and the entirety of what we’ve heard so far, that doesn’t strike you as instantly recognisable “Klaus”. It’s notable absence of that heavy drum work is an intriguing allusion to the wider musical competencies Klaus undoubtedly has. For the most part though, this album is what many have come to laud Klaus for; creating beats atop the shoulders of boom-bap’s pioneering giants, he continues to take the spirit of the East Coast across the Atlantic and make it into something much more than just a homage to the sound of that era.