Standing at the foot of the Andes mountains in Santiago, I imagine there’s something infinitely more mystical about FÃ¶llakzoid, the krautrock quartet who call the Chilean capital their home. In the thousands of miles and over 30 years between krautrock’s origin in Germany and II‘s origin in Chile, it’s almost too remarkable how little has gotten lost in translation. The quartet, which includes members of fellow Chilean psych group The Holydrug Couple, spreads the dark wings of the motorik groove across five tracks that span almost 50 minutes.
Something gets lost in translation when listening to the album here in the US. The kid-mazes of krautrock come just a little too easy, and they stay too close to the paths carved by their forebears. The rhythm section is wound tight on every song and Juan Pablo’s bass provides just as much, if not more energy than Diego’s precision drumming. The duo’s synchronicity is remarkable, creating a near-perfect chassis for each song to ride on. “Rivers” keeps a perfect two-step feel, and “Trees” drives all night, hands wet on the wheel.
But the other half of the band strays from the economy of the rhythm section, effectively creating grooves that stretch, trance, and drone, but never dance in jazz structures like Can, nor dabble in outer-sonics like The Silver Apples. The flowing raga of the 15-minute “Pulsar” does more marking time then meditating. Standout track “Trees” plays with polyryhthms within a tightly sewn pocket, and starts to morph into something of a journey. But once you get to the end of the song, you won’t need a map to get through it again.
I would be eager to see FÃ¶llakzoid take on these tracks in a live setting — to see the interplay between the four long-time friends bring the vim of their homeland to life. The spirit of the group is only half-formed here, with the other half still left somewhere in the streets of Santiago.
Essential Tracks: “Trees”, “Rivers”