Ekkehard Ehlers A Life Without Fear

Since the beginning of the ’00s German electronic minimalist Ekkehard Ehlers has cast his gaze back to the centuries past for inspiration and sound sources. On 2000’s Betrieb it was classical music and on 2004’s Plays it was "approaching and translating” works by Robert Johnson, Albert Ayler, John Cassavetes and others. On A Life Without Fear his approach is less deconstructive, its quotations laid bare instead of buried by modernist rubble. The work is bracketed by renditions of the traditional "Ain’t No Grave” and Ralph Stanley’s "O Death,” embracing the darkness of deep Gospel blues. The former of these is played fairly straight with mildly fucked guitar patterns and industrial hissings creeping in gradually, while the latter sounds like it’s being sung and beamed back from a post-apocalyptic space platform orbiting a charred planet. "Strange Things” retains the vocal of its composer, Baptist minister Charles Haffer Jr. who, in an interview with Alan Lomax, said of Gospel blues, "It’s what we call a warning song… our object is to warn the unconverted…” Ehlers’ own compositions are more mechanistic and abstract, a perfect upgrade for today’s more nebulous dread. What better time than now for a new blues album? (Staubgold)