From Aural Innovations #18 (January 2002)
Peter Frohmader - "2001" (Nekropolis Records 2001, NCD 009)
Nekropolis Strom Dept. - "Live" (unreleased)
German musician Peter Frohmader has been exploring electronic and rock music for 20 years, since releasing the first Nekropolis album in 1981. A multi-talented figure, Frohmader is as much a graphic artist as he is a musician having painted some of the most beautiful fantasy based works I've ever seen. He's also collaborated with some notables figures, including a film project with artist H.R. Giger and CD collaborations with Richard Pinhas and Artemiy Artemiev. Illustrating the diversity of Frohmader's influences and interests are the new 2001 and Nekropolis Strom Dept. CD's.
Frohmader's latest release is 2001, a space electronica party with heavy driving dance beats á la Eat Static or the Ozrics in their more toe tapping moments. Multiple layers of electronic textures, patterns, and beats create a danceable yet complex banquet of sounds that conjure up images of that great cosmic rave in the sky. At times I hear Kraftwerk's computer world colliding with prog rock symphonics. But overall it's a busy frenetic electro space-fest that's loaded with freaky sounds and heavy driving beats. Throughout the set the listener isn't permitted a moment of rest as Frohmader kicks out a non-stop barrage of totally spaced out electronic fun. A few tunes feature throbbing drone beats that pulsated in my brain as more merciful, yet strangely quirky, electro patterns danced about. And Frohmader shows us his more experimental side as a meteor shower of varying sounds rains down, backed by repetitive minimalist patterns.
In summary, this is easily one of the better space electronic releases I've heard this year. Frohmader isn't concerned with floating meditative space. Rather, he combines and layers numerous patterns that create a bouncy dancey atmosphere, but the resulting whole is too varied and complex for the rave set to really settle into a groove. Fans of sci fi television and video game soundtracks will love this disc. So will those who can imagine Fred Astaire doing his soft-shoe magic in the Star Wars cantina.
Taking a 360 degree detour into complete rockin bliss is Frohmader's yet-to-be-released Nekropolis Strom Dept live set (labels take note!). The band is a trio and the only one in which Frohmader has played only guitars. His more than able rhythm section consists of Tobias Siegert on bass and Andy Sowade on drums. The recording is from a November 1993 show in Munich and this lineup lasted about one year. The trio rocks HARD, coming across a bit like Led Zeppelin at times, though Kingston Wall might be a better example. But there are also moments that reminded me of a more rock ‘n roll boogie-woogie version of King Crimson, which I suppose in some ways is what Primus is because Primus comes to mind as well. There's no vocals so the focus is totally on the interplay and development between these three extraordinary rockers. Having only heard Frohmader's more space oriented electronic music this set really took me by surprise. The music is at it's best when the band kicks out killer boogie jams with intricate rhythms and guitar work. Siegert's bass playing is at times almost as exciting as the guitar, and Sowade provides a capable pounding foundation over which Frohmader and Siegert can stage their heavy rock assaults.
In short, this is a killer set that will appeal to fans of good old KICK ASS rock ‘n roll that also appreciate a healthy dose of creative complexity in their rock. Frohmader is looking for a label to release this set so interested parties should contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was so impressed with Frohmader's ability to create two such exciting sets of music that are so wildly different from each other I decided to throw a few questions at him through cyberspace:
AI: As I've been listening to these two CD's (2001 and Nekropolis Strom Dept) together I'm struck by the difference between the two. Nekropolis Strom Dept is a powerful "rock" set, while 2001 is primarily electronic. The feeling I get listening to them is raw potent fury (Nekropolis) versus the complexities of the computer age and continual technological advancement.
Peter Frohmader (PF): You know I'm working in the fields of music for over 30 years and was always interested in some various styles which I can integrate into my own structures. I like these two albums because they are different indeed. This way I can present my talents for special things and show some phases of my work.
AI: Having grown up in Germany in the 1970's, were the early Kosmiche/Krautrock bands a big influence on you?
PF: I liked these LPs really and in the beginning maybe there were inspirations of that period, surely. But I never wanted to copy someone else. Another influence beginning of the 70's was Magma and the French scene, which I knew well.
AI: Tell me about your earliest projects? Were they mostly electronic works, or rock oriented? Is the music on Nekroplis Strom Dept representative of the style heard on the earlier Nekropolis and Kanaan releases?
PF: The first trials were electronic and instrumental avantgarde, no rock music. No, the 'Nekropolis Strom Dept.' stands alone as an album on which I played only e-guitar (the only one) - I never did such 'rocky music', but as I noted before I like this one really and perhaps I'll do such stuff again in the future, but not at the moment. On this album you can hear very old tracks and themes of myself... KANAAN Live 1975 was also some underground/psychedelic experience, but with more jazz and free jazz elements (some rock elements too). Earlier Nekropolis live recordings are again something different, even Nekropolis Live 1979 (The awakening) and Live 1983 are various styled. You have to hear them. They are somewhere between Psych underground and avantgarde rock (and Krautrock naturally).
AI: I read somewhere on your web site that you have collaborated with Ax Genrich (Guru Guru), and Chris Karrer (Amon Düül II). Tell me about these projects.
PF: Not with Ax Genrich, but now with Luigi Archetti (Guru Guru guitar player) and several times with Chris whom I see more often. He has played on my work 'Homunculus Vol.2' for example.
AI: You've had a number of releases on your own Nekropolis label in addition to releases on other labels. Is "distribution" the main reason you seek other labels for certain projects? I know you're currently label shopping for Nekropolis Strom Dept.
PF: Yes the distribution is the main problem (and only problem). I don't have the time for doing much promotion etc. because I have alot of work in music and art.
AI: I read that you did the soundtracks for some films by H.R. Giger. I was unaware that Giger made films. Tell me about these projects.
PF: These films are documentations of his art and some 'performance' of the 70's. For example The '2nd celebration of the Four'.
AI: I also read somewhere about your own video productions. Can you tell me about these? Do they revolve around your art and/or music?
PF: Yes art (paintings) and music on film and video. Experimental films in elder days shown at some festivals of phantastic films etc.
AI: You've done music for television movies and documentaries, as well as doing some commerical art projects . Has this allowed you to make music and art a full time occupation?
PF: It's a full time job for me indeed.
AI: Given the nature of your music and fantasy nature of your art, I would imagine that writers and painters have influenced you as much as musicians. Are you a big science fiction/fantasy fan?
PF: I'm a big lover of phantastic art (from the beg. of surrealism) and of phantastic literature. But not so much the so-called 'fantasy scene' - there is a big difference in both genres. Science Fiction I like too.
AI: Do you consider yourself primarily an artist or musician?.... or are the two inseparable from one another?
PF: Both, sometimes more composer/musician, but one can say fifty-fifty. I spend a lot of time for my artworks too. At the moment (last months) I'm doing my very fine detailed led pencil drawings again.
AI: Any upcoming projects or future news we should know about?
PF: Two old LP classics 'Nekropolis 2' and 'Cultes des Goules' are rereleased now by SPALAX, Paris. In January will appear a 2nd CD together with Artemiy Artemiev called 'Transfiguration'. New CD project with Hubl Greiner (The Blech) and Luigi Archetti (Guru Guru) Production of a big 'Hören-Spielen' for the Bavarian Broadcastings. Some exhibitions of my graphical work are planned. In summer 2002 I'll play live at the St.Petersburg-Festival. Maybe some other concerts regarding this line up:
Peter Frohmader: 5-string bass, fretless bass
Holder Röder: drums, gongs
Richard Aicher: electronics
Andreas Merz: electronics
For more information you can visit Peter Frohmader's web site at:
Contact via snail mail c/o Nekropolis Records; Kriegerstr. 7; 81545 München; Germany.