German For Shark passed as a big beautiful blur on first listen. Discounting the selection of remixes at the end it’s actually quite a brief release, with big blocks of sound surging forth and fading into one another without too much pause for breath between each piece. The result is a gorgeous dream-like montage, with vibrant snatches of ideas forming and melting quickly into something completely different just minutes later.
Male manage to fuse the various instrument components – cornet, guitar, vibraphone, saxophone, percussion, electronics, tapes – into a landscape which is both dynamically and atmospherically diverse, somehow retaining a strong sense of continuity and seamlessness all the while. Not only are these pieces beautifully arranged, but the sonic environment is also cleverly re-arranged in a manner which sustains a writhing, ever-morphing narrative from start to finish.
As I mentioned previously, I found it difficult to soak up German For Shark on the first sitting. The album appeared to wash over me all at once without any distinct features rising to the surface; I was undoubtedly stirred by the experience, but found myself unable to pinpoint exactly why. But with each listen, the fast-moving collages of colours and shapes began to focus into spectacular imagery – “M. Wilson, American” arrives like an oncoming tornado with cornet and screeching guitar lead jutting out at all sides, “Jungle Boys” rides on a rapid-fire percussion like the incessant chatter of crickets with the resonant throb of melodic mirage haze slipping in and out, whilst both of the “Doom Thus” pieces leave the desolate plod of apocalypse piano to be swallowed up by haunting electronic waves.
It’s a well-placed live recording of “The Tase (two)” that takes German For Shark to a close. Tremolo guitar loops and overlaps into stuttering, melancholic harmony that departs to an intimate smattering of applause. The four remixes that follow all provide complimentary, well-worked accompaniment to the album itself, though clearly stand as a separate experience. It’s a fantastic album, and one which continues to mesmerise as you dissect these dense compositions and begin to make sense of them.