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This instrumental after-rock trio-turned-quartet from Munich evokes emotions for which there are no words. Like their Kitty-Yo companions Kante and To Rococo Rot, Couch avoids many of the pitfalls common to artists working in the so-called "post-rock" idiom by focusing simply on music rather than grandiose "statements" or self-conscious "innovation." In short, the music does the talking here, not the artists, and that is how it should be.

Couch oscillates between pathos and pleasure, usually within a single composition, using a sonic palette dominated by driving rhythms and melodic guitar and keyboards. Their musicianship is precise and mature. Couch has evolved strikingly over the course of the three LPs they've put out over the past few years. "Irgendwann" ("Anytime"), which comes from their second record, '96's Etwas Benutzen ("Use Something"), finds them sounding fiercely angular, rather like Slint, with lots of upper-register minor-key guitar riffing and deep resonant bass.

"Slogan," from '99's Fantasy (released a year later in the U.S. by Matador Records), finds them in a less moody, more avant-jazz mode somewhat reminiscent of Tortoise.

With their fourth record, 2001's Profane (released on Kitty-Yo, licensed in the U.S. by Matador), Couch's Krautrock antecedents (Can, Tangerine Dream) are a stronger influence than ever as the group continues to expand its instrumental vision with minimal, constantly shifting, ever-soaring epics. On the album, Couch deployed -- for the first time -- double bass, horns, a small string section, while also doing away with guitars on some songs. The surprising angles and dark textures that have previously distinguished them remain, however, as evidenced by "Alle Auf Pause."

Couch is without question one of the most noteworthy groups in the increasingly vibrant German art-rock scene. You?ll be surprised at the number of ways these complex sound journeys touch your emotions. Background noise Couch ain't.