The Garzweiler surface mine in the outermost western corner of Germany is an uncanny place: Around 8,000 people who formerly called the area home have been relocated for mining purposes, leaving behind ghost towns with only doorbells, company nameplates, and tombstones testifying to their former presence. Instead, Garzweiler is now home to a number of nightmarishly giant, unreal excavators that dig into the earth crust on those stretches of land that have already been »renaturated«. 2017, eleven years after the beginning of work on Garzweiler II (the controversial extension of the mining area) and three years after their celebrated »Streetlife« LP, Von Spar present their »Garzweiler« EP on Altin Village & Mine. On it are four tracks on which the hedonistic visionaries once again prove that their Cologne studio is the scene of a unique congregation of taste, technical proficiency, and aesthetic relevance.
The conceptual authority displayed on »Garzweiler« attests to this. Even — or especially — in the lightest moments of the atmospherically dense 24 minutes running time, one is confronted with the eerie suspicion that we are witnessing something that we were never meant to see or hear. The architecture of the tracks, much like the left-alone houses of Garzweiler, is haunted by ghosts. These ghosts, however, are, despite an evident rootedness in a certain musical tradition, less marked as references to the past than on their previous two albums: Instead, the sound of »Garzweiler« subscribes to an almost extreme contemporaneity. The tracks’ calm and clear textures are grounded by urgent, unspecific turbulences, that time and again break through as instances of a ghostly real.
As is typical for the band, the masterful and gentle synth arrangements are of an utmost formal rigor without being ostensibly elaborate or pretentious. Unlike on their recent long-play efforts, the band has not collaborated with guest vocalists on »Garzweiler«. A compelling choice, considering the logic of the record: The EP’s sound is devoid of humans—not, however, as a human futuristic vision, along with trite robot, machine, or space-age kitsch, but from the perspective of an already de-settled, or indeed: unsettled reality. Opener »Metaxourgío« already features this atmosphere, which is then most prominent in the fantastic and strange nucleus of the EP, the tracks »Garzweiler III« and »Garzweiler IV«, which are among the band’s most abstract work in the past decade. Here, Von Spar realize a breezy, machinic anonymity to which any »human touch« is foreign and external. B2, »Omónia«, works as a sort of un-expected summary of the record transposed to the dance floor. On the track, the urgency of »Garzweiler« culminates in a grandiose, almost anthemic finale of which the excavators of Garzweiler will tell their follow-up models. This is, if you will, capitalist realism, but under the auspices of Von Spar: neither primitivist, nor camp.