- Even against the flood of nostalgia-fueled kosmische over the last five or six years, ears surely perked up on learning that Danilo Plessow (better known as Motor City Drum Ensemble ) and Marcus Worgull of Innervisions had teamed up to try their hands at this sort of sound under the name Vermont. Add to that a list of contributors that includes people like Jaki Liebezeit, the legendary Can drummer, and it seemed like a shrewd marriage of minds.
For their debut self-titled album on Kompakt, Plessow and Worgull had informal jam sessions at Plessow's Cologne studio with no specific outcome in mind. The result is 14 very self-contained, economical sketches that rarely test your endurance the way so much of today's bedroom kosmische does. Each piece's simplicity is augmented by the duo's refusal to waste any sound. "Dynamik," for example, coasts on starry-eyed keys and silky synthesizer patterns into a soft-focus, jazzy retreat. "Lithium," underlined by Lena Willikens's theremin, sounds like Tangerine Dream attempting contact from the dark side of the moon, while "Montag"—aided by guitar from Phantom Band's Dominik Von Senger—might be a lost scrap of late-'70s Manuel Göttsching.
When Liebezeit shows up, he does so on quiet feet. The krautrock veteran lends brief, almost meditative drum fills to "Cocos," while his tribalistic patterns foreground the hypnotism of "Macchina." At first they might seem like insignificant flourishes, but over time you realize how much they color around the edges of Vermont's atmospheric creations.
Between the lines, more modern kinships thrive in Vermont's DNA. Opener "Yaiza" almost sounds like something from the ambient composer and house artist Susumu Yokota, with its slow, horizon-wide synths and daybreak keys. "Ubersprung" reclines into sparse tones and chimes that call to mind Mule Musiq or Dial. Whether they're taking inspiration from '70s kosmische or more contemporary sounds, Vermont's debut album is continually intriguing and texturally rich. If the project began as a kind of sonic playground, let's hope Plessow and Worgull return to the studio with a concrete goal in mind: album number two.
11. Macchina (Side A On Bonus 7-inch)
13. Lithium (Side B On Bonus 7-inch)