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Kraus has been kicking around the Auckland underground scene for quite a while now, frequently dropping albums of lo-fi psych rock instrumentals recorded with homemade modular synths, tape drum loops, and guitars running through fuzzed out effects boxes. His stream of steady releases has gained the attention of international indie labels and his latest record Grip The Moon is set to be released on cassette via US label Soft Abuse, and on vinyl early next year via Belgian label Kraak.
The record carries on Kraus’ blown out production style we’ve come to expect from previous releases, but has some of his most striking modular synth work on tracks like “A Cobweb My Dear” and a particularly great blokflüt part on “Boss Killer”.
Talking about his influences, Kraus explains, “I draw a lot on East Asian folk traditions and traditional music so I’m kind of interested in those sounds and instruments. I really like the contrast of high tech futuristic synth sounds with flute sounds, an extreme contrast I like to play with.” His influences on Grip The Moon are more specific: “A Cobweb My Dear” draws from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, “a young woman who works with modular synthesisers, in the fast arpeggio stuff that’s happening on that track.” And Kraus suggests the repetitiveness of the album opener, “Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed”, comes from listening to Hawkwind quite a bit — “it doesn’t really sound like them but the hypnotic thing that they would get into is coming through there.”
Up until about 2007 or 2008 Kraus released most of his music by making CDs and personally sending them to people. “It was a really good way to distribute music, I kind of miss that personal contact.” When the Free Music Archive was launched (freemusicarchive.org) Kraus began putting his releases up for free. His back catalogue is extensive, featuring a bunch of different instrumentation and experimentation such as the inclusion of the Guzheng (Chinese zither) on his album Workers in Kontrol.
I asked where a good place to start searching through Kraus’s discog might be: “My album I could destroy you with a single thought which came out in 2004 is definitely one of my strongest albums. I have quite a varied style in a way, but it’s reasonably consistent in terms of quality and approach, so I think you can dip in anywhere, but that’s the album I’d recommend people go to first.”
Kraus has spent a lot of time overseas lately playing shows, and is heading to Europe in September for a residency at the EMS studio in Stockholm (the Swedish national home of electronic music) where he’ll have access to their extensive synthesiser collection to work on new material. For now, check out Grip The Moon on kraussss.bandcamp.com if you’re into proggy, psychedelic, ambient, fuzzy, blissed out aural experiences.