It seems that every time I think I’ve started to scrape the bottom of the Krautrock barrel, an album happens to fly out of left field, that thumps me on the dome. For every NEU! or Faust record you may have played out over the years, I’m sure there’s an obscure Supersempfft album that’s looming just around the bend, awaiting your attention. In the most recent case of this sort of German sneak attack, I stumbled onto a record by a pair of synthesizer dweebs who made the brave (or perhaps ill-conceived) decision of naming themselves You. Luckily, I rarely judge a band’s merit on how easily their name can be searched on Google, so I was actually forced to listen to their second album entitled Time Code.
There were a few characteristics contained within the album that immediately surfaced upon a couple of listens. Firstly, Time Code wears it’s Germaness on its sleeve, and never apologizes for it. Some might regard this as a knock on the record, but I fucking love this kind of stuff. I’ve been jamming in my bedroom on my Squire Strat to “Rainy Day Sunshine Girl” since high school brah! Anyway, I can best describe the sound found on Time Code by saying that it’s A. slightly less human-sounding than a Cluster record, B. less robot-y than a Kraftwerk record, and C. slightly less ambient-sounding than a Tangerine Dream album… I realize this is a reductionist method to describing music, but I think it’s the best way to talk about You.
I also found out rather quickly that there were no physical instruments to be heard throughout each of the tracks on the record. Upon losing their drummer Harald Grosskopf, and guitar player Uli Weber before the production of Time Code, the remaining two You members Udo Hanten and Albin Meskes decided to go about the recording process themselves. This turn of events can account for the synth-heavy sound on the album, and more obviously, the lack of any human percussion or guitar playing. Again, while this factor might be viewed as a detriment by some listeners, the pair made the most of their new slimmed-down line up here. Whatever negatives you may have to say surrounding these dudes, you must admit they program a pretty mean keyboard.
An early performance (pre-Time Code) at Art & Action Gallery.
The electronic sound You come away with on Time Code can be described as both pretty-sounding as well as a bit doom-laden. The synthesizers never sound the least-bit murky on any of the tracks, which affords Udo and Aldin the ability to tweak the tone of a particular tune at the drop of hat. They exercise this power in songs that range from uplifting (such as “Metallique”), to numbers on the opposite end of the moody spectrum (like “Deep Range”). “Future-Past” runs the full gamut of emotion, as it begins it dark territory, before poking its head out through the clouds, just to return into dreadful terrain once more. It seems that You’s rendering of tone could be their greatest asset as a duo.
This sophomore release was initially put out in 1983 by Rock City Records, but is just now being reissued by Bureau B along with their first album Electric Day. If you are new to the late-70′s/early-80′s world of German rock, there are probably a few touchstone records you might want to look into before trying this one out (see: Ege Bamyasi). Without sounding too condescending, if you find yourself to be a XXJFG enthusiast, Time Code will probably land right in your wheelhouse. You’ll probably also dig it if you like smoking grass, and getting spooked-out.