Datashock, a German collective of multi-instrumentalist hippies,
founded by vocalist and keyboardist Pascal Hector in 2003,
debuted with the single Die Frage Ist Wann Es Absurd Wird (2004),
fifteen minutes of Dadaistic chaotic electroacoustic chamber music with occasional bursts of noise and of digital-hardcore
performed by the trio of Hector, Thomas Huckert and Thorsten Haupt.
After a series of collaborations, documented on albums, mini-albums, cassettes and EPs such as Vol I (2006), VPRO Session & Special (2008) and
Vol IV (2008), Datashock released their official debut
album Untitled Symbol (Qbico, 2008).
Here the ensemble consisted of Hector, keyboardist Ronnie Oliveras, keyboardist Ulf Schutte
(the mastermind of the parallel Shivers project),
guitarist Jan Werner, Marcel Turkowsky, vocalist Martina Ripplinger, and violinist Ruth-Maria Adam.
The 24-minute A side is a slow-motion crescendo of
droning accordion, and
metallic percussion, from which eventually
a distorted invocation emerges, and then the density of noise increases to evoke
a whirling dusty nebula (which rules the last ten minutes).
B has even more of a sci-fi quality, but still succumbs to shamanic babbling and savage distortion.
The cassette Rambo Wikinger (Tipped Bowler, 2008) collects two
recordings, the 24-minute piece of the cassette 11/3/06 (2006)
and a 2007 improvisation.
The mini-album Acidulle (Chococalte Monk, 2008) contains the eleven-minute Kraki Wandert Aus, in which
the sextet (Hector, Werner, Ripplinger, Oliveras, Haupt, Schutte)
evokes a sinister technological jungle that slowly morphs into a languid cosmic
Datashock was involved in
various collaborations, including Alle In Einem Bus (Textile, 2009).
The most ambitious of these collaborations was simply titled
Collaboration (Meudiademorte, 2009), a double-disc with
German psychedelic duo
Pretty Lighning (drummer Christian Berghoff and guitarist Sebastian Haas), which at the time
had just recorded their debut album Pretty Lightning (2009).
Here Datashock was a trio: Hector, Ronnie Oliveras, Ruth-Maria Adam.
The album consists of a series of untitled improvised jams, mostly anemic, notably the
ghostly absurdly disjointed I-I, the cosmic-shamanic crescendo I-III and the drunk pow-wow dance of II-VI.
The cassette Taramopskasefuss (Earjerk, 2010) document two live
performances by an octet
(Hector, Oliveras, Schutte, Werner, Adam, Ripplinger and the Pretty Lightning duo): the 23-minute Mueff-Busters
21-minute Wann Koennte Man Denn Noch Was Zu Kiffen Bekommen
The music is too diluted to become interesting at any point.
The cassette Para Dieswarts Dull (Colour Ride, 2010) contains inferior
material, like the 14-minute Cumin Seed Margherita that sounds like
performed by a bunch of high-school amateurs (in reality
Hector, Oliveras, Werner Adam, Ripplinger, and the Pretty Lightning duo).
A slightly modified line-up of vocals (Hector and Ripplinger), guitars (Werner and Haas), bass (Jan Stutz), drums (Berghoff), violin (Adam) and synth (Hector and Oliveras) recorded the double album Pyramiden Von Giessen (Dekorder, 2011).
If the tribal Lasagne Phalanx is too simplistic, the dilated and ethereal
Kanal Telemedial Energieausgleich
(for about six minutes) and
Das Maerchen Vom Zauberbergi
(for about seven minutes)
embrace a kind of elusive psychedelic music that completely abstracts from rock music.
The drumming is their weakest spot: in both cases the appeal fades away when the drums kick in.
The ten-minute Datashock The Mothership Reactivated Flying has sci-fi overtones and more melodic guitar lines.
The 17-minute Schlupp Vom Gruenen Stern
takes forever to materialize out of a discreet chaos of mellow sounds, and ends with an even more pleasant guitar line.
The problem is that it is all too indulgent. These pieces could be trimmed down a lot without losing much.
The cassette LiveLoveData$ (2013) documents a live performance of 2009.
The double album Keine Oase in Sicht (Dekorder, 2014), recorded by an octet (Hector, Werner, Haas, Stutz, Oliveras, Adam, Berghoff, and newcomer Daniel Fuchs), is better produced and played but doesn't remove the fundamental limitation of a format that is repetitive and predictable: loose and mellow sounds that slowly (very slowly) coalesce into some kind of rhythmic dance.
The lengthy preamble of Mudschahidin Der Liebe (13:48) leads to hypnotic
Vor Den Toren Von Gewas (13:23) is slightly more chromatic and suspenseful.
Obsidian Karavan Und Die Acht Drachmen (11:46) and
Desert Lustgerte Goldnougat Gobi fare better because they indulge in the
abstract soundscape, letting it revolve and not evolve, without trying to make sense of it.
Datashock seemed unable to recapture the magic of their
debut single Die Frage Ist Wann Es Absurd Wird (2004).
Four years later they achieved that feat.
Krauter der Provinz (Tapete, 2018), another sprawling double-LP, recorded by the same eight-member ensemble (with only one change),
opens with the
Neu-inspired motorik dance Hullu Gullu Wir Liefern Shizz (whose title directly references Neu's Hallogallo).
That is one extreme of the album. The other extreme is the endless languid
repetition of Spirituelle Enthaltsamkeit Im Sandwichverfahren (12:43).
In between is their traditional method of slow build-ups, which succeeds
when the raga-tinged droning of Im Zuchtstall Der Existenzhengste (16:12)
evolves into a solemn space-rock jam.
Halb-Halb Wie Ein Guter Kloss (12:56) builds up (relatively quickly for their standards) to a veritable shamanic atmosphere, slow beat, alternating electronic drone, and ceremonial litany.
On the other hand, it takes nine minutes for the tribal percussive chaos of Wenn Alle Wollen Will Uch Auch (11:05) to coalesce in a groovy pattern with distorted viola a` la Velvet Underground.
There is a new intelligence at work, besides better playing overall.
Initially, Schoenster Gurkenschwan (11:44) evokes cosmic spaces, then it sounds like the soundtrack to a Japanese "noh" drama, then it returns to cosmic voids but with a gloomy rumble and with ferocious distortions.
This piece is unusually "narrative" for them, and it also embodies more melodrama than ever.
Their most musical album yet, and perhaps the first one in which they really paused to think about how to develop the compositions.
Pascal Hector also released cassettes under the moniker Elfenbeinturm, notably Hallo Endzeit (2020).