September 12, 2013
by Tjeerd van Erve
AC Berkheimer – Equation Of State
It cannot be a coincidence. On the day of the Independent Labelmarket at the Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam we see pictures of Richard James Foster amicably drinking beers with label managers of Subroutine Records, helping them at their stand with Narrominded. The next day we get to read a typically positive review on the latest Subroutine release, AC Berkheimer‘s Equation of State, written by – you guess it – Richard Foster for his web residence Incendiary Magazine. Whatever happened to independent rock journalism? Are opinions for sale for the price of cheap beer and the oddly shared cuppa? Or does Incendiary have an interest in Subroutine Records, considering their constant cheer on nearly every release from the Groningen based label, be that Rats On Rafts (heck, these guys at Incendiary are the ones who keep prattling on about their guiding hand in the band’s rise to infamy, while everyone knows this was 3voor12 and Gijsbert Kamer), or Space Siren (where we catch Richard James Foster just a few days later, tweeting that he’s tasting Corno “Mister Space Siren” Zwetsloot’s homebrewn beer) or Nouveau Velo or The Sugarettes… no. Independent press can not be trusted anymore; too interwoven with the labels, the bookers and musicians. These guys left their principles at the door and sold their soul to the industry.
So, that’s Mr. Foster sussed.
Or perhaps there’s something else going on. Does Subroutine Records actually have a Golden Ear, a finger on the pulse of the Dutch underground? Since no one can be trusted anymore, let’s check this hypothesis on Equation Of State, the third record of AC Berkheimer. An album that will be presented in Roodkapje on the 14 of September with – you guessed again – Incendiary on the bill as DJs.
So Equation Of State. The moment the record kicks in, the body breaks into shoegaze pose. There’s no escaping the softly woven indie rock of these Dutchies and their mesmerising layers of melodic guitar noise. Catchy and haunting, you’ll be humming these songs for hours after listening to them. Songs like “Kissing The Surface” and “Cat” are threatening in that burning sugary sweet Daydream Nation-way; caramelized noise rock. Songs that cradle you to sleep, yet have an underlying horror: the outside world AC Berkheimer’s warm, protective hands can’t save you from.
The four-piece teases you, tempts you just to push you away when you want to come close. It is like long slow sex, or as Foster puts it “it is fine fuck(ing) music”, with the soaring post rock elements prolonging the moment while the drums just want to pace the rhythm forward. And then the mix in vocals, the well spread “she-he” combination taking turns in the leading role. All in all, a great record, that finally brings forward all the potential that AC Berkheimer already showed on previous albums into one great ball of fire, making three a really divine number.
So, indeed yes, there is something else going on. Equation Of State is actually great record and no, it’s definitely not the first great record released by Subroutine Records. I might go for a beer with Koen Ter Heegde too.