I have never personally been fond of the term Krautrock. It has always sounded like a pejorative term to me, and one that was used as a blanket for a range of bands who were cutting a musical niche in their own right without a particular need for a collective label. It is the music equivalent of ‘World Cinema’ in many ways. People get the general idea, but the subtle nuances are lost when such a broad term is used. However troubling this particular snowflake finds the term, though, it is almost impossible to review the third album by Cavern of Anti-Matter without making reference to its place in the Krautrock pantheon. This is an album which is aware of its influences and makes no attempts whatsoever to hide them. It also feels as though this is the first time that Cavern’s Tim Gane is not deliberately trying to disconnect his writing from that of his previous band Stereolab.

The album begins with a 16 and a half minute beauty in the shape of ‘Malfunction’. The initial high-pitched synth lines make way for a minimal keyboard refrain which plays a repeated melody that would not be out of place on a Boards of Canada track. The drums are suitably motorik as would be expected from a band working within this oeuvre, but the beat is perhaps a little too precise and clean sounding. Joe Dilworth drums for Cavern and his previous work in Stereolab and Add N to X highlight his proficiency behind the kit but this is unfortunately not allowed to flourish on Hormone Lemonade which is my one major criticism of this album. The story goes that the ten songs here were written from the beats up, but mostly from the homemade drum machines of Cavern’s third member, Holger Zapf. On repeated listens, this feels like something of a missed opportunity, but this does not detract from the overall excellence of the album. Cavern’s other albums have used drum machines so it’s not as though this should be a great surprise, but they were lower in the mix which made for a warmer overall sound.

‘Malfunction’ serves as not just the introduction to the album, but also something of an overview of what is to come in the remainder of the album. It weaves this way and that, pulsing and throbbing appropriately and undulating in all the right places. It does nothing that hasn’t been done before, but this is no bad thing in a musical style so steadfastly built around minimalist repetition.

After the unrelenting and exhausting nature of the opener, the album skips straight into ‘Make Out Fade Out’ which serves to push the band into indie-disco-floor-filler territory. This is perhaps the most viscerally direct song that Cavern have released to date and is the older, more mature brother to Holy Fuck’s stomping 'The Pulse' from 2007. The song utilises the ‘endlose gerade’ beat made famous by Neu!’s Klaus Dinger with some overdubbed percussion which resembles an old Bontempi keyboard. This feature highlights the keystones to this album – homage and heritage interlaced with a lack of total reverence for the past which is needed for the album to stand on its own two feet. There is a playfulness here which has maybe been lacking from the previous two albums but is all too familiar to anyone who has seen Cavern play live.

‘Phase Modulation Shuffle’ which follows next is probably as close to the sound of Dots and Loops era Stereolab as Gane has ventured since his previous band’s demise in 2009. This is obviously no bad thing at all. Like the worm in the ear of Chekov’s companion in the opening of Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan, there is an inevitability to this song’s ability to bore its way into your brain.

Other tracks on the album have echoes of Terry Riley’s A Rainbow in Curved Air, the later albums of Death in Vegas, Delta Sleep style math-rock and some 1980s synth-pop whilst also retaining a sound which is distinct enough for claims of intertextual pilfering to be unjust. The oxymoronic phrase familiarly unique springs to mind. Or maybe that should be uniquely familiar. You get the point.

At the core of this album are tones, rhythms and structures that sound well known but there is also enough here to feel as though Cavern are not simply treading long worn out paths. There is progression here. The opening bass synth line to “Outerzone Jazs” is crying out for a grime producer to sample it, too. Mark my words. Maybe that would prove to be a decent payday for Gane and co.

Overall, there is a surprising freshness to an album that could have been produced at any time between 1968 and now. This is a good collection of songs which progresses the narrative of the band and it deserves your attention, but I suspect these tracks work best in a live setting where they would be allowed to elevate above the often overly precise production on the album. This is one of those strange releases that affords the opportunity to both stroke your chin and move your feet.