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The Citizen’s Band: West 42nd/77 Reasons

First glances at The Citizen’s Band, a new addition to the Live at Robert Johnson family, gives way to the reassuring notion that this is simply another rebirth vehicle for Christian Beisswenger, the producer known for his work with Arto Mwambe and CB Funk. His 2011 has been relatively tranquil – the throbbing B.H.F.V collaboration, ‘E.T. 01‘ with Oliver Hafenbauer & a sombre vocal turn on Robag Wrume’s ‘Ende‘ preceding this release.

‘West 42nd’ is one of those tracks overflowing with detail, blessed with a smooth blend of intensity and fragility. Every element gradually mutates and transforms into something wondrous. Blunted drums that shatter you just enough, crisp full-bodied hi-hats soft stabs that prance gently, a lithe melody line that scampers around binding the piece together with silken lashes, a warm synthesizer underbelly that writhes, pervades, circles, smearing a sheen over proceedings, bass gently undulating underneath, slight paring of vocal samples meandering throughout. I give up trying to figure out what the main event is, it’s just an adventure to amble through and get lost. The video by Inga Danysz is equally arresting, a series of butterfly images in darkroom hue that symmetrically pulse over a monochrome television rewind.

On the flip, ’77 Reasons’ offers up a more traditional feel, calm icy shimmers wreaking gentle havoc over a straighter beat. The same spirit of mutation is in the house, just scattered over a track that builds in more organic fashion. A payoff emerges with tumbling pads around the half way mark; as ever subtlety is the name of this particular game – insistent bass colliding with synth clouds and that open and close around gentle arpeggios before a gradual distillation into a percussion-led outro, rolling out in gentle kick-shakes. Hyperbole isn’t my style, but this feels like the start of something special, an unashamed voyage into the unknown.