Irmler + Liebezeit @ The Hope & Ruin, Brighton 17.06.15

Faust and Can alumni Irmler + Liebezeit on dazzling form at a sold-out Brighton show

Jun 21st, 2015 at The Hope & Ruin, Brighton / By Norman Miller
Irmler + Liebezeit @ The Hope & Ruin, Brighton 17.06.15 Hans Joachim Irmler and Jaki Liebezeit boast enough impressive Krautrock pedigree as shining lights of Faust and Can respectively that this gig has long sold out, and the Hope & Ruin is pleasingly rammed with a mix of musically curious young 'uns and Can T-shirt clad oldies for an hour of engaging Teutonic electronic riddums from the veteran duo.

Improvisation underpinned some of Can and Faust's best work and on the pair's latest Flut album - and that's how things proceed here with five improvised and untitled pieces. Such is the absorption from Liebezeit behind his things to hit, and Irmler with his surround of synths, laptops and "prepared" gizmos, that the duo don't actually utter a single word to the audience between walking on and walking off an hour later.

But who needs audience banter when you can let the music do the talking? While there's a lot of musical DNA shared between the pieces, each is distinctive, standing out from the others via a sense of underlying vibe. So while the first piece tunes into something more psych from its hypnotic opening synth swirls through a spooky middle to a late blast of progginess, the second effort sounds almost tribal – forefronting Liebezeit's drumming and nodding at points to people like Dead Can Dance.

Third up things gather an air of sci-fi darkness with a weave of menacing synth work and FX like alien spaceships in a bad-boy ET movie – a combo which seems to go down best of all among the punters. The fourth piece, by contrast, is slower and more melodic, while the final improvisation returns to the cool percussiveness of the opener with a few almost rock musical tropes chucked in by way of 'big finish' – not that there's any movement from the guys on stage as they deliver their closing musical thoughts.

The length of each improvisation – 10-15 minutes each – seems to have a hypnotic effect, as no-one really twigs when it's all over, though the applause is an enthusiastic appreciation of top-rank improv: the Germans have come, they've played, they've gone. It might sound low-key but it was good and intense while it was happening.