Like a good number of folks who came up in the millennial industrial club scene, I hold a candle for mid-period Project Pitchfork releases (let’s say IO to Inferno, for the sake of argument). Peter Spilles and co. were welding their interest in the mystic and philosophical to tunes which synthesized a range of post-industrial sounds with classic European synth balladry. Thankfully, the point where Pitchfork began to lose the plot, turning out records which weren’t so much metaphysical as labored, is exactly the point where fellow Germans Absurd Minds began to pick up the baton of Pitchfork-style contemplative electro. Sixth LP Tempus Fugit comes after a lengthy hiatus, and offers up a pleasant batch of tunes which speak to their talent for pacing and melody.
Tempus Fugit, much like the band’s 2010 LP Serve Or Suffer, is at its best when it strikes a balance between immediacy and reflection. Serve Or Suffer‘s “Interconnectedness” and “Countdown” stuck with me in the interim because they weren’t insistent club ploys, nor did they fall victim to needless navel-gazing. Tempus Fugit walks a similar line to its benefit: “For Those Who Love” augments a simple but driving bassline with a toybox of pads, clicks, and acoustic piano lines, and late-album highlight “Design Or Consequence” has plenty of anthemic appeal, but simultaneously feels vulnerable and approachable. That willingness to use softness as a strength sets Absurd Minds apart from plenty of other electro acts, and even when the songs themselves don’t really click, Tempus Fugit remains pleasant if nothing else.
Absurd Minds have never shied away from big ideas, and the lyrics carry a macrocosmic interest in Boethius’ wheel, fate, the patterns of life, etc. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Robert Burns’ “Epitaph on William Muir” being cribbed on “Farewell” (“If there’s another world, he lives in bliss / If there’s none he made the best of this”). Much like the songs themselves, the lyrics have some highs and lows, but the thematic consistency keeps things moving along smoothly enough regardless.
Is Tempus Fugit reinventing the wheel (Boethian or otherwise)? Hell no. If you’ve checked Absurd Minds in the past or, like I said at the outset, ever cut a rug to “I Live Your Dream” around closing time, you’ll be on very familiar territory. But there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s friendly territory you haven’t visited in a while. Tastefully executed, Tempus Fugit is a charming return to a style no one save Absurd Minds, not even those who pioneered it, are trading in anymore.