The politically forsaken and graffiti-tagged blocks of New York are often the prevalent images that come to mind when the harder-edged beats and rhymes of Hip-Hop hit our ears. Klaus Layer in particular has become acclaimed over recent years for drawing inspiration from, and harking back to, these gritty and tough strata of the genre’s sound. But there has always been something else going on within this. His last LP, For The People Like Us, provided perhaps the most personal look yet into his musical mind and its fascination with antique bizarreness and the surreal. The final track in particular took us to the fringes and, with Restless Adventures, we’re immediately dropped way out there…
Klaus’ homeland of Germany has a wealth of sample-able music; this is not news to seasoned record collectors, producers, or keen-eared listeners. Whilst I don’t have the experienced ears to say whether he is indeed sampling from this stash, fans of the progressive and psychedelic rock and folk records of the region across the decades will dig the grungy and mellow grooves that are likely being flipped on this album as it’s core constituent of sound. “Another Season” is a great example of this as well as being a personal favourite; there seems to be a lot happening on this track, and it’ll perhaps become a little clearer by the end of the review.
One of the most notable characteristics of this album is the ambient sound of nature that is prevalent between all the roughly lashing drums and warped samples. The aforementioned “East Coast” aesthetic is therefore inverted somewhat with what seems to be a preoccupation with the sublimity of the organic, green world. The effects are minute, subtle, and highly effectual. But don’t get it wrong, the grit and graff is still there on most tracks, the percussive kinetics are off the scale in true fashion, and the spirit of JB continues to fade in and out of the instrumentation. Check “Our Hearts” or a “A Day Vision” which Klaus imbues with his instantly recognisable personality.
This record sits firmly in the Hip-Hop section, but it’s the juxtaposing presence of birds and water and the like that Klaus weaves between all of this that permeates the usual urban imagery with the natural world. Take “Happiness At The Lake” for example. Film theorists, professional and wannabes like me alike, will be familiar with David Lynch’s “duck eye” analogy; a scene or shot starkly different to the rest of the piece yet still an encapsulation of the core theme. I’m convinced this track plays a similar role on this album; being mostly devoid of percussion and consisting mainly of sounds of nature and laughter except for a siren-like pattern, one of the many inflections employed throughout the record that seems to mimic birdsong. It’s easy to think that this is probably more than a simple interlude and that there is a potential thematic agenda being presented here if you wanted to get into a Jean-Jacques Rousseau focused discourse. If you’d rather just recline and take a trip though, the album is potent enough in its off-kilter snare snapping and echoing vocal samples to induce this. Check “Time Out” which is a maelstrom of sitar-reverb and mantra-like repetition, or “Kaleidoscope” with its mystical flute-work that is sure to send any mind adrift on contemplation.
What you therefore end up with is album that can be enjoyed on numerous levels; it swings right for Hip-Hop heads, has layers of exotic instrumentation on top, and potentially something else in-between for listeners who like to look for narratives in their music. Perhaps most impressively, it does all of this a lot more cohesively than the title would have you think.
Restless Adventures is available now to download, and releases on Tuesday (Jan. 20th) on vinyl and CD