Essential albums: Kruder & Dorfmeister

It says much for the power of the remix that, despite being occasional composers of their own downtempo material, Kruder and Dorfmeister made their greatest initial impact on recorded music through producing and reinventing the work of others.

Kruder & Dorfmeister

country of origin:

Trip hop, ambient dub, lounge, nu jazz

decades active:
90's - 10's

essential releases:

  • G-Stoned EP (1993, G-Stone)
  • DJ Kicks mixed by Kruder & Dorfmeister (1996, G-Stone/K7 Records)
  • The K & D Sessions (1998, G-Stone/K7 Records)
  • Shakatakadoodub EP (2008, G-Stone)

Reviewed by Mike G

Did these guys invent electronic lounge music at its 90's ground zero? The pair would probably balk at the suggestion but Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister were certainly one of the earliest purveyors of trip-hop and stoner beats. It also says much for the power of the remix that, despite being occasional composers of their own downtempo material, they have made their greatest impact on recorded music through producing and reinventing the work of others. The catalogue of album and EP releases under their own name is actually quite small - since the 90's, they have been active under the K&D name mostly as performing DJ's or doing one-off remixes.

Their debut release of original material was the 4-track EP G-Stoned (1993), self-published on their own label after their demos were famously rejected by various dance labels as being "too slow" and therefore unsellable. It's a strong statement, building funk and jazz-laden flavours of downtempo on a foundation of hip hop loops and dub production techniques, spiced with motifs from 60's lounge records and retro soundtrack music ala Lalo Schifrin and Ennio Morricone. Although highly distinctive texturally, and much slower than typical dancefloor BPMs of the time, fundamental to its construction are the same new-generation samplers and synths that were driving the entire electronic dance music scene in its formative years.

Their 1996 contribution to the mix series DJ Kicks from Berlin-based K7 Records remains the best to date of the duo's DJ mix releases, both official and otherwise. The release received more attention then G-Stoned did, particularly in the UK thanks to the early groundwork of influential radio DJ Gilles Peterson, and discerning chill fans were taking serious notice as trip hop sounds climbed in popularity. The album is a beautifully programmed cruise through warm downtempo grooves and includes gems from Thievery Corporation, Hardfloor and Herbalizer, as well as their own "High Noon" from the debut EP.

But The K & D Sessions (1998) is the album upon which their legendary reputation stands; a glorious 2-CD set showcasing what was at the time an unmistakable production style of blunted beats, shimmering dub-influenced reverb and generally spacious sound design. Highlights are many, and for fans of more atmospheric fare the mostly-instrumental second disc provides the majority, including tracks by Sin, David Holmes, The Sofa Surfers and Mama Oliver. Also noteworthy is K & D's own "Boogie Woogie", a lovely piece of landscaped ambience with pristine acoustic guitar and crying, windswept synth. The K & D Sessions was a massive influence on eclectic hip-hop-based downtempo music which thrived throughout the 90's and 2000's. The genre is far less popular now, and many talents from the early days have abandoned instrumentals for vocals and lyrics, but fine examples can still be unearthed on the atmospheric fringes of house, breaks and even among rap producers if you dig deep enough.

K & D have released little original music as a duo since The K & D Sessions - the Shakatakadoodub EP from 2008 is about all there is, an excellent collection of scattered tracks from late 90's compilations. But they remain highly regarded DJ's and have also pursued some high quality solo projects. Look out for the early albums of Richard Dorfmeister's band Tosca and also the self-titled release by Peter Kruder's Peace Orchestra.

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