The duo who called themselves You were something of a post-Krautrock affair, whose first album Electric Day appeared in 1979. By that time the LP side-long atmospherics of fellow Berliners Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze were beginning to incorporate some rhythm into their “Kosmische Musik." You’s sound fit right into this new electronic world, even if they were somewhat overlooked at the time. Bureau B has just reissued the first two You albums, Electric Day and Time Code. Both provide a fascinating glimpse into this transitional era.
The title track of Electric Day opens the original seven-song set. It is a heavily sequenced piece, with a high beats per minute quotient. “Electric Day” is in no way a dance music track however. “Magooba” highlights one of the brilliant guests You mainstays Udo Hanton and Albin Meskes brought into the project. Guitarist Uli Weber contributes mightily to the tale, as he does later during “Zero Eighty-Four.”
The Spiegeltraum Studio where Electric Day was recorded saw a fair number of Krautrock titans come to visit. One who decided to join the proceedings was drummer Harold Grosskopf. At the time, he was drumming with the remains of Ash Ra Tempel, which was now being called Ashra - and was led by Manuel Gottsching. He had also drummed for Klaus Schulze at one point.
The sequencer patterns of Electric Day add a certain “futuristic” sheen to the affair, but it is Grosskopf’s drums that hold everything together. Nowhere is this better exemplified than on the 12-minute “Slow Go.” This song more than any other bridges the old, lengthy improvisational style of the seventies with the more refined sounds that would become common in the eighties.
One of the great things about CD reissues is the opportunity for bonus materials. In the case of Electric Day, the original vinyl release held approximately 39 minutes of music. The Bureau B CD adds another 33 minutes to the mix. And these four songs are in no way inferior tracks. In fact, I am hard pressed to tell you why these were not issued - because they are as great as anything on the album.
The sequencer-driven, 11-minute “E-Night” features barely audible, out of phase spoken-word interludes (in German) at a couple of particular spooky points. Weber’s guitar apocalypse towards the end of the cut must be heard to be believed. Another strange and forward looking extra tune is “H. Rays Identity.“ The weird pre-videogame soundtrack is a uniquely intriguing vision. It is the sound of the future, as heard through the prism of the past.