This record connects worlds that never wanted to be connected – Ambient and Drone on the one side and on the other Latin and Psychedelic. The effect can best be described with a color: Golden. Thus, the name of this project is as fitting as it might be. The three musicians are atop of their game, their sound is perfect, the warmth is mesmerizing and one might not want to stop listening!
There is so much truth in the slogan that you can find on the Bandcamp-page for the Dead Neanderthals which says “Throwing Curveballs for over a decade”. Even though I am no baseball expert in any way but I know that a curveball is used by pitchers in order to lure the batter into slugging along but then missing the ball that goes too far away from them. Nothing special in baseball, but in music that term is indeed something unusual, because curveballs are, obviously, not part of the regular musical terminology. However, when we think about it – yes, musicians can lure you in with their structures, their soundscapes and even with their songs or records. They can make you think you know what they are up to next and then come up with something totally different – and yes, that’s exactly what Dutch duo Dead Neanderthals did here on their second collaboration with Desertion Trio-leader Nick Millevoi; the first such collaboration was their 2015 release Dietary Restrictions. What Otto, Rene and Nick give us here has seemingly nothing to do with the cool heaviness of their previous record Specters, nor with the fantastic over-the-top-level of Dungeon Stoner that they unleashed on the last record of 2023, the Ordo Dracul Demo. Gilded Form is so different that they even released under that moniker as a self-titled release and yes, it doesn’t fit to its predecessor nor to its antecedent. The only thing that combines all three is the miraculously genius-like level and performance.
This record is so good that it’s my more or less my only wish for Roadburn 2024 or any other year basically. Imagining standing in one of the halls and listening to Otto spreading all the love a synth can purvey, Rene seemingly only caressing his drum-kit with bare hands and Nick laying his lush Santana-guitar parts above it sounds like the perfect way to end a hectic day of stage-hopping. But one should be a little clearer about this record in order for everyone to understand it:
The synth is the foundation for everything on this one-track, 40-minute opus. Otto is gently pushing the keys from one direction to the next, from one little soft sphere to another and he never gets tired on hitting exactly those bars that are warm, soft, “pillowy” and simply wonderful. Then sometimes you hear a little Jazz-brush swooping over the drums as if Bohren & der Club of Gore took center-stage and shared their vision of Doomjazz with us. However, this record is much more cohesive as any Bohren-release, also because it’s only one track and thus automatically different and more “united” - nevertheless, the warmth of the synth is another cause for a joyous grin on everyone’s face, maybe also because the synth sometimes has a kind of warm bass-like character. But the element that really turns this record into such a stunner is Nick’s homage to Carlos Santana, even if it was not a conscious decision. But there is so much Latin Krautrock-feeling in the golden (gilded?) touches he adds that the feeling of standing in the warm Aztec sunlight just seemingly doesn’t leave the listener.
A perfect title for a great record – the track glows in the dark, sparkles in the sun, radiates during the blue hours of the madrugada and magically makes everyone smile. Could this be an instrumental Beach Boys record that has just resurfaced? An old Can demo? A shiny version of a Lustmord-track? Yes, all of that – and more. This is Golden.