Kröter is a musical collective, a critical mass of numerous, richly creative people currently based in Germany. As I write, all of their gigs have been cancelled, the world has been cancelled, and this is not a bad thing regarding the latter, though not the former. Covid-19 has been unleashed like a metaphor for a radicalism that is required for all that needs to change, a significant crisis indeed and bad times for a band who, figuratively speaking, breathe fire in public.
The collective’s third album, a triple-disc release published on 1st January 2018 and consecutively titled *a, *b and *c, encompasses 26 recordings meticulously condensed from hundreds of hours of studio improvisation. An array of imaginative reportage, dream experience and waxing narrative playfully delivered by vocalist Henry Sargeant's articulate oratory are woven together by an orchestra of spacious and professional improvisation. While it’s always tempting to resort to comparison with other artists, this risks generating false expectations. The album should be approached without preconception and, even though Henry told me over the phone that he prefers *c, I have taken great pleasure in its aggregate, an experience that is rewarded with repeated attention to its unexpectedly methodical eclecticism, much as you might find in a multi-coursed meal served up courtesy of a crazed pop-up diner and attentive chef; a rare treat.
Henry shared with me an almost mystical tale from his youth in the north of England. While attending an art foundation course during the early nineties, he constructed a two-meter high tower from detritus found in situ and playfully described it as "Adult Meccano". This jerry-built spire was stable enough to support Henry’s climb to the top, filmed on VHS from below by a peer. At the tower's peak, he delivered a soliloquy which, like the video footage, is now lost to the wind. Yet this vaporous message in a bottle continues to wash up on the beach of his creative continuity; the mouth the instrument of reality’s construction.
Kröter’s abundantly innovative, pataphysical choreography navigates this reality and disseminates a polyphonous salve for the lacerations carved by omnipresent snake-oil hypnotists. From all the colours of the visible spectrum with which this band are adorned, we might hope to reawaken our souls from the monochromatic demands of dominance and exploitation. Eye-catching dissent is at the heart of Kröter, a prismatic phantasm guiding their audience to reach for vulnerabilities at this tent edge of imposition. Their project is cathartic, spirited and brave.
The band can be seen illuminating the web with previous performances and recordings, alongside other musical projects with which they cross-fertilise. Go listen, and when the Covid curtain finally lifts, go see. Meanwhile, provided below are links to material for the curious to adorn themselves with, like a viral prevention mask:
Kröter is Henry Sargeant aka Mr Vast (previously of Wevie Stonder) / Vocals; Jo Zahn / Guitar, bass; Christoph Rothmeier (also of Hunger) / drums, synthesizer, wood trumpet, production and artwork. Also featured on these recordings are Kalle Zeier (of Onom Agemo & The Disco Jumpers, Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra) and Jorg Hochapfel (of Piho Hupo, Hosho, Hunger and Andromeda Mega Express).