(Dismal Niche, 2014)
I just finished exercising – I do aerobic workouts a few times a week – and now that I’m done, all I can think about is how frictionless everything feels. You know, how your arms and legs feel like rubber, and you’re pretty much gliding around your house, hoping that you avoid crashing into the sink when you’re filling up your water glass? (Or if, like me, you’ll NEVER drink city water again – ever ever ever germs bugs poison – you hit the ol’ Brita pitcher in the fridge.) That’s it. That’s what I’ve got going for me right now. I’m frictionless, primed for perpetual motion.
What does this have to do with Poi, you ask? Well, gather round as I sweat here shirtless on the couch, and I’ll tell you. Poi, and their answer to the great mysteries of krautrock, Teenage Dolomites, sound about as frictionless as I feel after a workout. (Although, not when I’m sweating on a couch. That’s the opposite. I’ll stop now.) There’s not much I can find about the band themselves, except that they’re from Colombia, Missouri, but they sure as shootin’ find a great deal of inspiration in the German electro/rock hybrid pioneers like Neu! and Kraftwerk. And I, being a totally unabashed sucker for that kind of tunesmithery, don’t care that Missouri is the most unlikely place for a krautrock revival – let it happen anywhere, I say. (Although the Midwestern United States seems to be breeding these kinds of bands – see, for example, Pyramid comma Food [or, Food Pyramid] out of Minneapolis for likeminded stalwarts of the genre.)
Teenage Dolomites is weightless, absolutely not contacting terra in any way. Even when the synths (and/or guitars? I’m not making that call) get a bit more crunchy and propulsive, as they do on “Phantom Trackers,” the tune is buoyed by pristine drum tracks and bubbling keyboard tones. The future-worldliness pulses with purple neon and Tron-isms, but the track titles themselves hint at crumbling infrastructure and a return to pastoral existence: “Gnarly Horsebreeders,” “Midnight Riders,” “Walkabout,” “Early Warnings,” “True Survival” (although “Starmates” hints again at non-terrestriality). So it’s anachronistic, then, that such lightweight tunes and heavy tangibles coexist here. Even Teenage Dolomites, the title itself, imagines the mountain range in southern Italy as a younger formation – rock, ice, density, the passage of time. (Note: This is not to be confused with Buddy Ray Moore – this is not Teenage Dolemite, you understand.)
The record is immaculately fleshed out, and bursting with bullet-train-smooth grooves that transport listeners to nowhere that I’ve just described. It’s filled with head-rush moments that stretch for minutes, causing the brain to release endorphins not only to the body, but also to the far-off reaches of the psyche. Tunes such as “Midnight Riders” and “Flares” (two of my absolute favorites here) are emotional and metaphysical catnip, propelling me along at breakneck speeds (for krautrock anyway) yet allowing me to enjoy the scenery as a representational blur. Yet it all makes perfect sense! I’d prefer that this ride lasts for a while.
And it does – I’m not going to add up the times because I’m lazy, but Teenage Dolomites at least gets close to an hour before unceremoniously screeching to a halt. Check that – it’s actually a pretty ceremonious stop, what with the gentle synth shimmer of “Pastlives” letting you down easy before the “play” button on your tape deck loudly pops and jolts you out of your reverie. Whatever. What “Pastlives” doesn’t do is go against anything I’ve said so far about weightlessness and perpetual motion, and that makes me feel good, like I’ve accomplished something. And hey, I’ve cooled down a bit now, so I’m gonna go hit the elliptical. Later, gators.
RIYL: Neu!, Cave, Food Pyramid, Kraftwerk