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Camera - Live at HBC CD (album) cover

LIVE AT HBC

Camera

 

Krautrock

3.00 | 1 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The Berlin-based Camera trio has never tried to hide their admiration for the classic motorik rhythms of Neu! and Harmonia. And in this year 2011 concert the band enjoyed an opportunity to legitimize that influence by playing alongside two legends from Krautrock's first generation: Michael Rother and Dieter Moebius.

The gig dates from around the time of Camera's debut studio album, but their guerrilla-style performances are better suited to a live setting, with a supportive audience to help feed the trio's improvisational energy. There's no real musical development over the length of these three extended instrumental jams, and none of the three tracks were given titles...inexplicably, in one instance (see below). But there's likewise no sign of aimless indulgence, either: all the players were obviously in sync throughout, musically and spiritually.

The show opens with a 21-minute, one-chord motorik groove in classic Neu! vernacular, allowing fans of that iconic band a vicarious hint of what the Dinger-Rother duo might have sounded like in concert (the "Neu! Live" album on their page in these Archives was a studio rehearsal, not an actual gig).

The second jam continues in the same direction, urgent and hypnotic, overlaid with oddball synthetic textures: a Dieter Moebius specialty. The Neu! parallels are even more obvious here, but never in a nostalgic or imitative way. Camera has never been a Krautrock tribute band; their music is as fresh and contemporary now as it would have been in 1972. For Michael Rother, the show must have felt like a homecoming.

The album's final track will sound familiar to veteran Krautheads: it's the classic "Neu! '75" anthem "Hero", played with a strutting authority equal to the original. Oddly, the album notes credit guest singer Shaun Mulrooney for the lyrics: an unfortunate insult to the memory of Klaus Dinger. Was there perhaps a legal reason for not acknowledging the song's actual author, who died in 2008?

Like too much new music these days, the album doesn't exist in any physical form. But the digital files are available for purchase directly from the Play Loud! Film and Music store, along with a video document of the same concert **. The latter was proudly "shot in one continuous 47-minute take", honoring the Krautrock and Camera traditions of underground spontaneity, but likely done for economic more than aesthetic reasons: the filmmakers had only a single camera.

The music, by itself and without the film as a visual aid, is only a two-dimensional facsimile, unable to fully capture the impact of the actual event. But the energy inside the small HBC club must have been electric, and I applaud the spirit of the Camera trio: young kids picking up and reigniting the counterculture torch at a time that really needs it.

[** consumer alert: this is entry #8 in the Play Loud! (live) Music Series, alongside similar releases by Faust, Guru Guru, Lydia Lunch, Damo Suzuki, and many others]

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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