Klammer – You Have Been Processed
A Review By: Matthew MacDermant
The Leeds based band Klammer was formed in 2014 by British producer and sound engineer Steve Whitfield (The Cure, The Mission), Paul “Poss” Strickland, Bruno Almeida, and Mike Addy. They have been described as the lovechild of XTC and Gang of Four, with elements of goth rock, punk, darkwave, and post-punk. Most importantly though, they absolutely rock. These guys are rising stars in British alternative music. If you are a fan of Joy Division, The Damned, The Stranglers, Bauhaus, David Bowie, or any of the post-punk and alt-rock early classics, you’ll absolutely love Klammer’s new album “You Have Been Processed.”
Much of the sound, vibe, and atmosphere of Klammer is reminiscent of the post-punk and early goth sounds born in the late ‘70s – early ‘80s. It does not, however, feel forced or stuck in the past. The album is authentic and fresh. It utilizes the classic stylings of the post punk golden age, but it does not copy or attempt to woo listeners on some nostalgic trip. Klammer picks up the mantle where the greats left off; greats that Whitfield himself helped produce. Post-punk and the purer goth sound which hurled us into melancholic and brooding worlds built on percussion, synth, and chord back in the 1980s, have more they can reveal to us. There is much fruit left on the tree. Klammer is a leader in the revival of killer sounds from the past, while also forging a bold path into an unknown future and musical landscape.
The catchy, dark, sometimes angular sound and progression of “You Have Been Processed” is an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes it has us head tucked between our knees in despondent malaise. The next moment we’re front to back, side to side, cutting across the floor with the volume turned up. It bounces between heavy and melodic. This fluid soundscape is what makes an album into a living work of art. As a full package, it takes us to the depths and limits of human expression, human despair, human joy. Instead of a bundle of one-off hits, it is a story, an audible sculpture, guiding us through many lands. Klammer is a band for the listener with the refined palette, but they never miss a chance to throw in a good hook and a few dark pop gems.
“Coast to Coast” leads in with a mysterious ambiance. The sound feels like a thick fog. I imagine the band entering through through this fog as the set opens. It progresses into a solid rock anthem with catchy hooks and poetic, powerful, brooding lyrics that repeat “Washed away…never to be seen again.”
“Modern God” alternates between a dark and disturbing spoken word and a gothic chorus which has hints of the rising indie-darkwave scene (TRST, Cold Cave, and Ashbury Heights). This song feels modern (pardon the pun) and fresh. It carries hints of the classics but is a solid mash-up which bends the rules and blends a variety of styles to create something new from the ashes left behind by the masters of ages past.
“No Memory” starts with a hybrid psychedelic/darkwave feel fading into heavy drum lines and angsty half-spoken punk-styled lyrics. The chorus trades off with sharp angular guitar riffs backed by drum/snare progressions and edgy basslines. This may be the least post-punk of all the tracks. It isn’t anything else that I can exactly place my finger on either. I have a deep appreciation for undefinability. It keeps the music unique and it has us on our toes, unable to contain it in any particular box.
“Mechanical Boy” is the darkest, most depressing cut. The instrumentals tell the intense melancholic tale of a boy trapped within his own mental/emotional prison. The atmosphere creates a perfect setting for this tragic world. It just feels hopeless, defeating, painful, a lost cause. I also feel the urge to shake the boy, whoever he might be and jar him from his living tomb.
“Baddest Parts” is the most punk-rock track in that distinctly 1970s style, with spoken word over heavy riffs. This is for the mosh pits.
“Tonight” blends dark pop with classic gothic basslines and muted lyrics. It’s a darkwave dance track all the way.
“Human Clay” is another dark and brooding track that drags the mood way down. The soothing melodies and piercing lyrics over low tempo instruments turn us into human clay to be molded by Klammer’s enigmatic style of sound.
“A Long Cold Summer” closes out the album and for good reason. The simple harmonies fronted by hypnotic and repetitive lyrics remind us over and over again: “Life will be the death of you.” As the track winds down, the words and instruments fade into the abyss, just like us.
Klammer is definitely climbing the ranks. I hope we get to see a lot more of them in the coming years. They are reviving a classic sound that is far from finished putting us in strange alternating states of melancholic trance and fluid dance frenzies. Simultaneously, they are injecting new life, new energy, and an authentic twist with new hybrids, new instrumental progressions, and new angles on the darkness that epitomizes the frail human condition. I am excited to be along for the ride.