Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

written by: October 10, 2011
Robag Wruhme Thora Vukk Album Cover Release Date: April 29, 2011


In an ever-expanding field of conceptual electronic artists, Robag Wruhme throws his hat into the ring. A veteran of the German music scene, Thora Vukk is actually his first on DJ Koze’s and, for what it’s worth, is fairly auspicious. The German artist, who’s been branded minimalist techno, is something of a sound smith. With a very few elements he manages to create an ebullient sonic landscape.

As one might guess from the namesake, Robag Wruhme—pseudonym of Gabor Schablitzki—rips a page out of Aphex Twin. Well, quite a few pages. There are the boggled names for songs, that, rather than spell a word, suggest a meaning phonetically or by the appearance of the letters. There are time-stretched vocals (none of which form words), resonated hi-hats and a host of incomprehensible sounds sucked through familiar melodies. It all winds into a kind of soothing, ambient minimalism that glimmers and stings.

Thora Vukk carries with it that sort of glum sadness that suggests the wide, grey emptiness of modern day East Berlin. There’s enough two-and-four to keep it techno (a la the liquid bassline on “Bommsen Böff”), enough innovation to keep it German and enough space to fill a Soviet blockhouse quarter. But it’s a work that never quite loses touch with its sentimental side—from the warm, tape-delayed strings of opener “Wupp Dek” to the call-response piano balladry of “Ende.” The kinetic and often mysterious loops range from the everyday (muffled voices, doors slamming) to the alien and incomprehensible.

This is a collection of songs that appeal psychologically as much as they do viscerally.

Sometimes, they can be difficult—either because you’re trying to make sense of them or because they’re just that jarring (the old violin-bow-stroked-across-a-cymbal trick), and if you find yourself bobbing your head, you’re probably also stroking your mustache keenly trying to decipher each little turn. Listeners might catch themselves thinking of a melody in one way, before hearing it reinstated in a clearer, much different light. Often, it will disappear altogether. There is as much attention to details in the music as there is to the sounds.

Interesting to note is the structure of the record: There are seven songs divided by five unearthly “brüeckes (bridges), each one mostly noise, fusing distinctly different moods of songs, dissolving into the silence from which they came. Whether it’s deliberate or notit turns the piece into a kind of linked journey, with each island showcasing a different side of the artist. Standout “Pnom Gobal” glows between the second and third bridges; touting whispered chirpy drums, it manages to stay a step ahead of predictability with its tradeoff of sighing strings and solfége.

Robag Wruhme is an artist you’re more likely to see at SONAR festival, not your local club—and that’s to his credit. The subtleties, ambience and artfulness of Thora Vukk deserved to be met silently, loud and clear.

Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk Tracklist:

  1. “Wupp Dek”
  2. “Thora Vukk”
  3. “Bruecke Eins”
  4. “Bommsen Boeff”
  5. “Bruecke Zwei”
  6. “Pnom Gobal”
  7. “Bruecke Drei”
  8. “Tulpa Ovi”
  9. “Bruecke Vier”
  10. “Prognosen Bomm”
  11. “Bruecke Fuenf”
  12. “Ende”