At around five AM on the March 5th, 2017, Kettenkarussell moved into the final hour of their 12 hour Planet Giegling showcase at Village Underground with the sombre, shimmering arpeggios that inhabit New York Blues, the second track of their second full-length release: Insecurity Guard. Such a moment in the club lingers in the memory long after it has passed; in this case because it distilled something of both the beauty and the chaos of the previous 11 hours served up by Giegling mainstays DWIG, Edward, Dustin, Ateq, and Kettenkarussell’s two main members, Konstantin and Leafar Legov also playing individually. This apparent paradox is often the fragile structure holding Giegling’s records together, with Kettenkarussell’s downtempo, broken micro-house perhaps its best embodiment. For every woozy synth or stuttered click, there seems to be a gaping, yearning chasm just beyond it.
Insecurity Guard then, arrives as antithetical to the image of Giegling seemingly held by as large swathes of the internet as those holding the Weimar-formed label in rapturous esteem. Much has been made of the hype generated by Giegling’s continual rise in the global electronic music scene, with the high prices of records - particularly those put out by the anonymous Prince on Denmark, whose 8-vinyl LP 8 cost €100 new - and perceived hubris, even arrogance, of the collective’s members putting many off. Insecurity Guard, in contrast, is an exercise in understatement. Opener Gate shuffles into view, a muted, eerie fog of off-kilter keysand oscillating fuzz. After New York Blues comes Everything, combining chimes struck delicately and hesitantly with the sigh of a piano chord to create one of the most low-key ear worms you will hear this year. What is perhaps most astonishing about Everything, and Insecurity Guard in general, is the attention to detail. New fragments reveal themselves with every listen: the slight pitch modulation at the end of the occasional bar; the alterations in hi-hat programming. Just For A Second, meanwhile, seems more straightforward, with a thumping kick and sharp clap. Even so, the arpeggiated harp retains that sense of something a little different that every Kettenkarussell track - and plenty of Giegling tracks - seem to have. Closing track Brueder finds Kettenkarussell channelling the aesthetic pushed by Scottish Warp-mainstays Boards of Canada with a soaring breakbeat and expansive bed of synths. The breaks fade away for the final two minutes, bringing the album to a close in much the same way it progressed: muted, yet beautifully poised.
Words: Harry Reddick