Tag Archives: belle brummell

Record Roulette (1): Flamingods – Majesty

Willkommen zu einer neuen Kategorie, die ich schon lange einführen wollte: Record Roulette! Wie beim Russischen Roulette weiß man nicht, was einen erwartet, denn beim Record Roulette werden Platten gehört, über die wir nichts oder fast nichts wissen. Ein Flohmarktfund, ein unerwartetes Geschenk, eine Entdeckung in der elterlichen Plattensammlung – wie in Forrest Gumps berühmter Schachtel Pralinen wissen wir nicht, was wir kriegen. Ohne mehr Infos, als die Platte selbst hergibt, legen wir sie auf und schreiben darüber, was wir hören.

Anlass zur Eröffnung dieser lang geplanten Kategorie war ein Geburtstagsgeschenk, überreicht mit den Worten “Ich habe nach Cover gekauft”. Ehrlich, gibt es eine schönere Art, Musik zu entdecken, als sich das künstlerisch ansprechendste Album-Artwork auszusuchen? Ich glaube nicht! Besagtes Albumcover ziert die Platte Majesty von Flamingods, einer Gruppe, von der ich bis dato noch nie gehört hatte. Laut eines Stickers mit Vice-Zitat macht diese “psychedelic music for the soul”. Dekoriert ist die Platte mit einer Collage aus verfremdeten Fotos und Zeichnungen: ein bunter Wald aus Blüten, Ranken und Bäumen schlängelt sich um eine Art Pavillon, in der zwei junge Menschen in bunten Trachten mit auffälligen Kopfbedeckungen sitzen bzw. stehen. In einem ovalen Rahmen zu ihrer Linken ist ein Gebäude mit spitz zulaufendem Dach zu sehen. Die untere Häfte des Bildes ziert ein großer weißer “flamingods”-Schriftzug, darüber klein der Albumtitel ‘Majesty’. Erschienen ist das Album 2016, wie die Rückseite verrät, die im selben Stil wie das Frontcover gestaltet ist und in der Mitte zwei weiße Türen mit großen Fenstern zeigt, hinter denen unten und oben Kerzen in der Dunkelheit brennen.

Die Songtitel wirken homogen, Jungle Birds und Majestic Fruit passen zum Pflanzenwald des Artworks, Gojira, Rhama und Sarangi klingen indisch und sind ebenfalls mit der Optik stimmig. Zieht man den Pappschuber mit der Platte heraus, erfährt man auch die Namen der Beteiligten, inklusive Fotos der Bandmitglieder: Kamal Rasool, Charles Prest, Sam Rowe, Karthik Poduval und Craig Doporto sind ebenso ethnisch vielfältig wie die Namen suggerieren. Produziert wurde das Album übrigens in London, was ein Hinweis auf den Wohnort der Gruppe sein dürfte (aber nicht sein muss). Außerdem findet sich ein längeres Zitat, das ich des Umfangs wegen nicht abtippen werde, von einem Evan Crankshaw, das in sehr poetischen Worten dazu auffordert, das ‘Exotische’ nicht durch Reisen in ferne Länder zu suchen, sondern stattdessen “mit den Ohren von anderen zu hören” und so seinen Verstand zu erweitern. Sehr psychedelisch eben – und noch immer konsistent mit dem Thema des Artworks. So etwas mag ich ja. Ich bin also extrem gespannt, was es nun zu hören gibt.

Die Musik setzt irgendwie plötzlich ein, aber das kann auch meinem Plattenspieler zuzuschreiben sein. Eine raue, aber nicht tiefe Leadstimme, begleitet von einer höheren Backgroundstimme, die kurz darauf den Leadvocal übernimmt, singt zu prickelnder, fließender Psychedelia, die tatsächlich etwas im weitesten Sinne “nicht-westliches” an sich hat – das wird spätestens dann hörbar als hoch jaulende Streicher einsetzen, aber auch das leichtfüßig-melancholische passt irgendwie zu dem Ambiente, welches das Cover vorgegeben hat.

Der erste Track Majesty ist schnell vorbei, der nächste, Jungle Birds ist schnell, überlaufend vor Eindrücken, der Gesang ist ruhig, während sich im Hintergrund die Musik überschlägt – es gelingt der Band hier wirklich, u.a. durch den Einsatz von Flöten, einen Eindruck von Dschungel heraufzubeschwören. Die Musik ist wild, unübersichtlich und anziehend.

Und auch dieser Titel ist im Handumdrehen wieder vorbei, und Taboo Groves setzt ein. Er ähnelt dem Vorgänger – es gibt Gesang, doch es dominieren eher die Instrumentalpassagen. Hier passiert immer noch viel, doch es wirkt nicht mehr so chaotisch, vielleicht haben sich meine Ohren auch daran gewöhnt. Die Stimme wird immer von einem oder mehreren Backgroundsängern begleitet; überragend ist der Gesang nicht, die Stimme hat zwar etwas ungewöhnliches, leicht quäkiges, aber sie steht klar im Hintergrund im Vergleich zur restlichen Musik. Der Offbeat wird effektiv eingesetzt, um gemeinsam mit ausladenden Akustikgitarrensoli eine mühe- und schwerelose Atmosphäre zu evozieren.

Auch dieser Track ist kurz, es folgt Majestic Fruit, mit einem sanften, an plätschernde Wasserfälle erinnerndem Intro voll eingestreuter Effekte, die einem immer noch das Gefühl geben, durch einen üppigen Dschungel zu stromern. Auch hier werden unübliche Instrumente eingesetzt, um das in dem Zitat auf der Rückseite angesprochene “Exotische” heraufzubeschwören. Wie “exotisch” das für die Bandmitglieder mit ihrem jeweiligen kulturellen Hintergrund nun wiederum ist, wäre eine andere interessante Frage. Die Musik schwillt langsam an, es wird darübergemurmelt, doch nicht richtig gesungen, die Stimme wird zum Instrument, anstatt sich hervorzutun. Weiterhin sind Flöten, Rasseln, Trommeln zu hören, und als würde ein Feuer erlischen, ist auch dieser Song urplötzlich zu Ende.

Mit Anya kommt nun der letzte Song der ersten Seite. Auch dieser setzt ruhig ein, im Hintergrund hört man Stimmen, die von einer Aufnahme zu kommen scheinen und offenbar nicht Englisch sprechen, doch es ist schwer zu sagen. Dann kommen Gesänge, die an Naturvölker denken lassen, bevor der übliche englischsprachige Gesang einsetzt. Auch dieser Track gleich sich musikalisch den Vorgängern an, er ist aber sehr gediegen, episch, mehr Struktur und weniger Chaos. Die Percussions lassen mich an den Genre-Begriff “tropical” denken. Das leichtfüßige Plätschern des Beats steht im Gegensatz zu der dominanten gedehnten und schwermütigen Streichermelodie. Immer mehr Layer legen sich übereinander, zwei Melodien spielen nun gegeneinander an. Nun erinnert das Ganze an das Unwort “Weltmusik”, was ich nicht wertend in Bezug auf die Musik meine, das Wort habe ich nur mangels eines besseren Einfalls eingeworfen; es sind jedenfalls kaum mehr westliche Einflüsse zu hören. Die Musik schrumpft zusammen, die Sprachaufnahmen übertrumpfen sie und verschwinden schließlich im Rauschen; die erste Seite ist vorbei.

Seite Zwei beginnt wild, fröhlich; wieder regiert das Chaos. Unter der dominanten Melodie werden parallel noch mehrere andere gespielt. Dann bricht das Ganze weg, um den Beat in den Vordergrund zu stellen, doch kurz darauf geht es wie gehabt weiter. Gojira scheint ein Instrumental zu sein, bei dem die Gitarren zum Jaulen gebracht werden. Dieser Track ist wohl der bisher psychedelischste, mit jeder Menge altbekannter Effektpedale, und sehr starken Drums, denen manchmal fast alleine die Bühne überlassen wird. Sie schwellen rauschhaft an, irgendwann hört man Rufe, die Gitarren setzen wieder ein, das Ganze wirkt jetzt eher wie eine Jagd durch den Dschungel auf LSD. Immer wieder ertönen Soundeffekte, die an den Schrei eines Vogels o.ä. denken lassen – die dichte Atmosphäre bleibt. Dann tröpfelt der Song aus – auch dieser kürzer als im Genre üblich.

Rhama folgt als nächstes. Die Gitarren brummen tief, lassen sich Zeit, hier wird man nicht mit Reizen überflutet. Auch der Gesang ist zurück, lässt sich in die Musik fallen. Bisher ist diese Seite deutlich klassischer psychedelisch als die andere, auch der getragen-eintönige Gesang, den man so schon oft bei Genrekollegen gehört hat. Bei der nächsten Instrumentalpassage werden die Klänge wieder höher und schriller, weg vom Altbekannten und wieder näher am Stilmix der ersten Seite. Diese Passage zieht sich hin, ich freue mich, als der Gesang wieder einsetzt. Er ist so verfremdet, dass er auf einer Ebene mit der Musik liegt und sich nicht in den Vordergrund spielt. Der Song scheint mir bisher der längste, doch auch er findet sein Outro, das wieder sehr dschungelhaft und verspielt klingt.

Sarangi setzt mit Trommeln ein, klingt wirklich am deutlichsten indisch von allen Tracks bisher – der englische Gesang wirkt fast deplatziert. Ohne ihn könnte man hier auch traditioneller Musik lauschen, so erscheint es mir als Laien auf diesem speziellen Gebiet. Nach einer Weile wird der Gesang sehr langsam, während im Hintergrund noch immer atemberaubend schnell getrommelt wird und allerlei Melodien durcheinander wirbeln. Hier wird eine gekonnte Hochzeit des psychedelischen Parts mit der traditionelleren indischen Musik gefeiert.

Eine Pause – ist dies möglicherweise der nächste, und letzte Track, Mountain Man? Ich vermute es, denn der musikalische Bruch ist deutlich zu hören. Dieser Song treibt nach vorne, erinnert mich auf einmal an traditionelle irische Musik – was auch ein legitimer Einfluss wäre, natürlich. Wieder verschwindet der Gesang beinahe im vielfältigen Gewirr der Musik, aber eine dominante Melodie ist klar zu erkennen. Den Dschungel höre ich jetzt nicht mehr, dafür grüne Felder und fließende Bäche, aber das mögen meine eigenen Assoziationen sein. Wobei Mountain Man, der Titel, den geografischen Wechsel schon andeutet, und die irischen Klänge bilde ich mir gewiss nicht ein – die Musik wird immer schneller und vermischt sich mit Rufen, wie man sie oft bei Volkstänzen hört. Ein überraschender Ausklang der Platte, der zum ersten Mal mit dem vorherrschenden Thema bricht. Der Gesang hört ebenfalls auf und überlässt uns ganz dem imaginären Volksfest. Nun hat auch dieser Track seine Längen, doch kaum ist das niedergetippt, verlangsamt er sich und bereitet sich auf das Ende vor, das in Form einen letzten langgezogenen Tons kommt.

Fazit? Erst einmal ist das eine unglaublich intensive Art Musik zu hören und auch zu rezensieren, die ich sicher nicht zum letzten Mal gemacht habe. Vor allem, da ich gerade nach neuer Inspiration lechze. Die Platte von Flamingods bietet auf jeden Fall interessante Genrebrüche, und ihre tiefe Verbundenheit zu östlichen Klängen wurzelt offensichtlich auch in der Herkunft der Bandmitglieder, es ist also kein musikalischer “Tourismus”. Eine Platte zum Nebenbeihören ist es nicht, dafür ist sie zu anstrengend; sie fordert Aufmerksamkeit. Vielleicht etwas zu chaotisch für meinen eigenen Geschmack, aber gleichzeitig bewundere ich ihre Fähigkeit, Konzentration herauszufordern, sich selbst in den Mittelpunkt zu stellen und sich nicht mit Hintergrundgeplätscher zufriedenzugeben. Die größte Stärke ist aber auf jeden Fall das gekonnte Heraufbeschwören von Szenerien, Orten und Situationen, die beim Hören im Kopf entstehen, als würde man sie selbst erleben. Das geschieht gerade durch das Zurücknehmen von Vocals zugunsten von vielfältigen, oft gegeneinanderlaufenden Instrumenten und Melodien, den Einsatz von Soundeffekten und Verfremdungstechniken. Diese Platte sprudelt vor Leben und scheint sich in ihrer Kreativität keine Grenzen zu setzen. In meinen Augen ein gelungener, aber auch herausfordernder Ausritt aus dem Psychdelic-Genre.

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Q&A: Telegram

The 5th of May was Ascension Day, it felt like the first day of summer and everyone had BBQ at the park. Except us – we were sitting in a bar next to the train tracks of the U1 interviewing Matt Saunders, the singer of UK newcomers Telegram. Later that evening the London based fourpiece would have their second German gig ever after the Munich debut the night before. Despite of the weather there was a decent amount of people who didn’t want to miss this historic event.

Telegram just released their debut album Operator in February featuring their hit single Follow amongst other rough, catchy, punkish songs. With this record they fulfilled the high expectations the debut single had set. Live on stage it wasn’t hard for them at all to recreate the unpolished sound of the record and they played a tight and fast paced set.

During our talk with Matt we got a glimpse of the creative process behind both their music and the accompanying art and visuals.

You just released your first album Operator. We noticed that it sounds almost like a live recording, very raw and unpolished. How did this decision come about to record it that way?

We recorded it on a boat down Docklands, which has a studio inside of its hull. Rory Atwell, our producer, has a quite “live” style anyway. Being a live band, we kind of wanted that energy on the album. It would have felt strange to people who have seen us play before to have a polished album, that wouldn’t feel right. When you release your first record, you’re still at a stage where you need to get people to come to your shows and check you out, so I think it should be a sample of what you’re like as a live band.

Were you consciously trying to find a middle ground between having a lot of rawness and noise on the one hand and quite catchy, accessible melodies and guitar parts on the other hand?

Yeah, you’ve got to be careful and find the right balance. When we write songs we start with an initial structure that is based on a simple melody and then we add noise and effects… I think if you start the other way around it’s not really working.
I love a lot of good pop as long as it’s real and you can believe the person that it’s coming from. As a band you are constantly told that you need to have one or two songs which will get you on the radio, which is the only way that you will get booked for festivals as well. You have to think on a different level about what you’re doing. We are trying not to let it get to us but it’s still how things work.

What are your thoughts on how the second album is going to sound like? Anything about the debut album that you want to depart from?

The first record is fast, it has a lot of pace in it. A lot of the new songs we are writing at the moment have that as well, but we don’t want to make a complete follow-up to the first record. We want it to be quite different, to be a little groovier in its tempo.

There is definitely a big consistency between your sound and your visuals. We noticed that all your music videos have the same intro for example. What’s the concept behind it?

I’ve got a VHS camera that we shot the first video for Follow on and I had a clear idea in my head how I wanted it to look. I used to work at a location for photography and film, which had two rooms with wooden panels on the walls. One was cream white and the next one was black, so we would do the same set up and click from one room to the other.
The credits in front were also made with that VHS camera. It has a controller where you can type in the credits and they come up on the TV screen, then you have to make sure that everything in the room is dark to film the TV screen. The problem is, if the thing breaks… (laughs) So I’m trying to copy all the letters so if it did happen we could just cherrypick letters digitally and pop them in … though it’s cheating a bit.

SONY DSC
Matt Saunders ©Nora Lee
Speaking of technology – you named your band Telegram and your album is called Operator. Is there a background to it, such as a retro technology theme?

Yeah, I think this aesthetic has a sort of dystopian, sci-fi theme – things like Kurt Vonnegut and J.G. Ballard, that imagery is quite attractive to me. The name “Telegram” came about four years ago, when I was looking at a newspaper which had a list of releases for record store day. I was just circling words that would be good for a band name, and there was a re-release of Telegram Sam by T-Rex. When that word came up it just felt good, satisfying in a way.
Operator was going to be called Telegram originally, which was lazy. We would always talk about calling it like a constellation or some other spacy thing… The name Operator came about because I was working on the artwork at the time and using a telephone as the basic back of the record as a theme – a telegram is being sent via a telephonic machine that you would press certain numbers on. This was maybe a day before we had to decide the title. As I was going through images of buttons on the telephone, one of them just sat staring at me, it said “Operator” and I thought “Ah, that’s perfect!” That sums up a lot of things that we’re about.

So you also did the artwork yourself?

Yeah, I went to art college for like four years and art is still a hobby of mine. I’ve also got a little studio space. For me the idea of somebody else doing the artwork is like getting another person to buy a birthday present for your girlfriend or boyfriend, giving them a couple of ideas what they’re into and then they go off and buy something for them. But if you find somebody to collaborate with that you can really trust then that’s worthwhile and I’m totally up for that. I mean there’s limits and boundaries and at some point I’ll have to get help, maybe.

Let’s talk about the lyrics a little. Do you focus on telling a story or is it more abstract…?

I imagine a lot of the lyrics are rather sentiments, as opposed to stories, in the same way that you might feel angry or upset or interested or bored or in love or whatever it is you’re feeling, and of course there is a story about it, and then I abstractly write about it.
There are so many lyrics that are just a repetition of the same themes and lines, about love or missing someone or this or that… It’s just not very original, so I try to be more abstract to make it interesting. I’m a big fan of Leonard Cohen for example. He’s really good at creating lines of abstraction, and then there is one line that is really straightforward and very simple which ties it all together and gives it a meaning, before it goes back to strangeness again.

Do you put personal experience into your lyrics as well?

Definitely. There will be one line that’s very specific to something from experience, and the next will be more of a general feeling about time, or space … it’s quite mixed up.

We read that you crowdfunded your album. Is that something you would do again?

I mean, it was really hard work but at the same time – it worked. We had a record deal with Sony but after nine months of nothing happening, it fizzled out, and then we went that way instead. Initially I was a bit skeptical, I didn’t like the idea of crowdfunding. To me traditionally, growing up, that’s not how a band puts a record out. But actually I think the simple method of a fan buying a record upfront – paying for the record before it’s been made – is a really clever way to do it, because you’re not asking for anything more than the cost of the record you would pay for anyway, it’s just reversing the order in which it happens. And if we did it with a label they would take 80% and we would have 20%, of control over things as well. All of that nonsense disappears. I would recommend it, and we would do it again.

Live: Pale Honey + Light FM in Berlin (DE), 09.04.2015

On a Thursday night, I was drawn to the lovely Schokoladen in Berlin-Mitte, a small, cosy and very reasonably priced cultural centre off polished Torstraße. Being a good place to discover new or underground artists in a small setting, the venue had two promising indie bands on that night: Pale Honey, a grunge-y girl duo from Sweden, and LA indie-pop trio Light FM.

lightfm
© D. Prahl

Curiously, the former were playing second, the ‘headliner’ spot, despite not even having an album out (their debut is scheduled for May 5th), while Light FM have been around since ’99, putting out five albums in their career. But apparently, hype beats longevity in the minds of the bookers. With their Fiction EP and latest hit single Youth, Pale Honey have definitely gained some attention for the upcoming self-titled debut album. Light FM, meanwhile, were touring their recent Pointless EP, which had some catchy, shoegaze-y tracks to offer. The trio, comprised of Josiah Mazzaschi on guitar and vocals, Nicki Nevlin on bass and Alexa Brinkschulte on drums, played an enjoyable set of synth-heavy indie-pop full of strong melodies.

The club only really filled up when Pale Honey came on, though. Which was a shame because personally I liked Light FM’s set much better. Despite the strong singles they had put out, Pale Honey’s show seemed lifeless, the music bland and interchangeable. I tried to listen for a few tracks, but eventually decided to call it a day and leave early. The rest of the audience didn’t seem to mind – maybe it just wasn’t my kind of music.

Live: Bilderbuch in Berlin (DE), 20.03.2015

Mit dem Bilderbuch-Gig im ausverkauften Astra Kulturhaus schließt sich für mich ein Kreis: Immerhin war es ebenfalls in Berlin, als ich im Jahr 2009, damals noch als Touristin, in eine Indieparty mit Liveband stolperte, und die Geschichte ihren Anfang nahm. Auf der Bühne des (alten) Magnet standen ein paar österreichische Buben mit dem ausgesucht bescheuerten Namen Bilderbuch, die aber sehr zackigen Indierock mit deutschen Texten spielten, ganz im Geschmack der damaligen Zeit. Irgendwie, und das hat sicherlich mit diesem ganz besonders bescheuerten Namen zu tun, habe ich sie nie vergessen. Drei Jahre später spielen sie, inzwischen mit Album Nr. 2, auf dem Hamburger Dockville Festival, und klingen plötzlich existentialistisch und experimentell. Noch zwei Jahre später und sie machen diese unglaubliche EP, deren Name “Feinste Seide” ab dann Programm ist: Man legt sich eine Rich-Kid-Persona zu, singt ausschließlich über Lamborghinis, Pool-Partys und Bling Bling, und das alles zu einem funkigen Beat, der auf einmal mehr R’n’B ist als Indie-Rock. Wieder sieht man sich in Hamburg, diesmal auf dem Reeperbahn Festival. Im Publikum ein Haufen Teenies, der “Maschin” kreischt. Die Band souverän und umwerfend wie nie, aber ob dem offensichtlichen Teenie-Appeal doch eher eine “Guilty Pleasure”. 2015 dann kommt das Album, “Schick Schock”, mit mehr Exzess, mehr Sex, mehr Dolce Vita. Plötzlich sind sie in jeder Musikzeitschrift des Landes, und jede ist voll des Lobes. Man ist sich einig: So cool hat deutschsprachige Popmusik lange nicht mehr geklungen, vielleicht noch nie.

Als ich das Astra betrete, um Bilderbuch ein viertes Mal live zu sehen, erwarte ich zumindest einige Teenager, aber ich weiß auch, dass man sie auch als erwachsener Musikhörer jetzt mögen “darf”. Zu meiner Überraschung sehe ich ausschließlich sehr gut angezogene Yuppies und Hipster, die augenscheinlich sehr selbstzufrieden damit sind, heute hier zu sein. Weiter vorne dümpeln sicher ein paar obligatorische Vierzehnjährige herum, aber davon kriegt man in der hinteren Hälfte nichts mit. Ich komme ins Gespräch mit einem Wiener, der mir versichert, dass alle Wiener tief im Innern abgrundtief böse sind. Es ist schwer zu glauben, wenn man die vier Mitglieder von Bilderbuch auf der Bühne sieht. Das liegt vor allem an dem überbordenden Charme von Frontmann und Alleinunterhalter Maurice Ernst, der mit seinen Witzeleien, dramatischen Handbewegungen und Hinterngewackel den anderen Mitgliedern die Schau stiehlt, wenn er nicht gerade sinnliche Gitarrenduette mit Bandkollege Michael Krammer spielt oder jener sich für seine Soli verdienten Szenenapplaus abholt.

Die Setlist umfasst das komplette, sensationelle “Schick Schock”-Album – eine verständliche Entscheidung, enthält die Platte doch nicht einen einzigen schwachen Track –, wobei die Stücke der “Feinste Seide” EP – der Titeltrack sowie “Maschin” und “Plansch” – mit Abstand am meisten abgefeiert werden und die Yuppies in Bewegung versetzen und zum Mitsingen animieren. Aus den vorigen beiden Alben werden “Calypso”, “Karibische Träume”, “Ein Boot für uns”, “Joghurt auf der Bluse” (zu meinem Entzücken) sowie “Kopf ab” (als Zugabe) geboten – immer noch deutlich mehr, als ich erwartet hätte, und auch die Crowd reagiert besser als gedacht. “Moonboots”, der “Feinste Seide”-Hidden Track, ist leider seit dem Reeperbahn-Auftritt aus der Setlist verschwunden, bei der Qualität der Stücke aus dem neuen Album ist das aber mehr als zu verschmerzen.

Nach dem Auftritt hole ich mir am Merch noch die frisch auf Vinyl veröffentlichte erste Platte, die leider eine ungewöhnlich miserable Soundqualität aufweist (vermutlich wurde sie damals einfach so aufgenommen). Aber zumindest schließt sich damit der Kreis noch schöner. Fast so schön wie in diesem Artikel 😉

indie pen dance presents: DNA BLN #2

We are proud to be among the presenters for Berlin’s art & music showcase event DNA BLN, which hosts its second edition on March 26 at Magnet Club.

DNA BLN is dedicated to bringing together different artistic communities. The event offers a stage for new performers, showcasing six artists from different genres like electro, rock and singer-songwriter as well as a selection of DJs. The music is accompanied by visual, multimedia and art installations, such as the reinterpretations of famous album covers done by the collective Stattlab.

We give away 1×2 guestlist places for DNA BLN #2 on March 26. To enter, send an e-mail with the subject “DNA BLN” to
indiependance (at) hotmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to include your full name! Competition closes on March 24.

As a music fanzine, we are naturally most excited for the music lineup, which offers a range of upcoming acts to discover. Read on for a short overview of the six live acts.  Full information on the programme can be found on the official Facebook event page.

The opener of the night is Berlin-based triphop act Metryk, who released their critically acclaimed debut EP late last year. Combining a warm tingling sound with the melancholy of dark days and the spheric vocals of singer Hanna they achieve a thick and organic sound reminiscent of acts such as Portishead.

Up next is Candice Gordon, an Irish singer and songwriter who also lives in Berlin. She has released an EP and several singles gaining much attention for her dark twist on folk music and  her outstanding voice. At DNA BLN Candice Gordon will perform tracks from her upcoming debut album.

The next act is Lion Sphere, who are actually from Berlin (they say). The fourpiece band formed in 2013 and play a fusion of indie with thumping electronic elements and heavy hip hop grooves. Their calm, spheric and multi-layered sound and vocal effects place them at the intersection of various genres, opening their music to a range of audiences.

We Love Machines are a Swiss electronic duo. Timo Loosli and Daniel Werder are well-known for their breathtaking shows featuring a live drummer. After releasing their debut album and a follow-up EP as well as lots of remixes, We Love Machines just put out their brand new Salt EP,  combining their signature machine wizardry and raw power with some hat tips to grand masters of electronic music.

Swedish rock’n’roll act RIDEAU are in charge of the heavier part of the night. Gabriel Öbergs raw and soulful vocals and Carl Magnus Palms ripping guitars create a metallic thunder in the shape of punk to come. Their songs are about ecstasy, emergency and death and promise to shake the audience up.


Autist Ntlprgrmmr
are a live electronic band  from Berlin, formed in 2014 by former members of electro-punk band Aniaetleprogrammeur and drummer Christopher Chartrand (Crystal Castles). Their music is a mix of psych, grunge, dance and punk with shards of thumping beats and razor guitar that provoke manic and brutal dancing.

You can also listen to all the acts on DNA BLN’s Spotify Playlist.

Live: Warm Graves in Berlin (DE), 03.03.2015

On this Tuesday night, a significant number of spectators had been drawn to the Kantine next to Berlin’s famous nightclub Berghain to experience Warm Graves live. The 200 capacity place was well filled with mostly young and stylish people eager to see the Leipzig threepiece bring their dark, haunting and other-worldly space-rock to the stage. The most important question for me personally was how and whether they would recreate the distinctive choir vocals heard on the 2014 debut album Ships Will Come, but also of course what their show would be like in terms of visuals and performance.

The atmosphere was largely a detached one, with the audience listening attentively and the band never addressing them with a single word, perhaps not even a glance. Instead they were fully focussed on the drums, keys and guitar setup, with the vocals being provided by the guitarist and altered to create that faraway sound. Still the effect on the recordings was not achieved and perhaps intentionally so. Instead the live setting added a more raw and emotional quality to the vocals, making them sound pained and honest rather than ethereal and bodiless like on the album. This gave their music an interesting twist.

The small club did not allow for a massive light show of course, but the backdrop was still illuminated by psychedelic projections that went well with the music. It was noteable how absorbed the audience seemed, without moving much; everyone was so concentrated that from where I stood I never saw a single smartphone in the air, which is very untypical these days but perhaps this is a first indicator that constant filming and photographing are becoming a no-go, finally. In the end I almost felt bad taking a mandatory picture to go with this review.

To conclude, I was glad to have seen them live because I found the album fascinating in many ways and was intrigued to see their live performance in comparison. However, it could have been more emotionally gripping if the band had not been this introverted, but of course not every musician has an outgoing stage presence. In this way they seemed to match their audience and the atmosphere was a rather intellectual one and not so much about letting yourself go to the music.

Best of 2014

Here’s our list of albums and EPs that we liked the most this year:

Alt-J

This Is All Yours

Recommended by Annie May: With their debut album “An Awesome Wave” winning the Mercury Prize and being highly acclaimed by critics, alt-j had some big shoes to fill, and this time without their bassist Gwil Sainsbury, who had quit the band. The timing of their follow-up “This is all yours” was perfect. They took enough time to not rush and ruin it but also manged to put out their second LP before the public forgot about them. Alt-j don’t let anyone tell them what to do or what not to do and you can feel that on this album again. The first single “Hunger of the pine” featured a Miley Cyrus sample, the second one “Every other freckle” has some sexy lines about licking crisp packets and cat paws. Still, this is my favourite song of the album. I recommend listening to the song while watching the official music video. It intensifies the whole feeling of this song. Another favourite is “Left hand free”, an upbeat song that sticks out on this album. The other songs blur into that typical alt-j style: soft guitar melodies, Joe Newman’s unique voice, exquisite percussion and even more guitar melodies. Also quite notable are the songs “Arrival in Nara”, “Nara” and “Leaving Nara”, which give the album a structure. This album took me longer to “get” than the first one but it was also worth it. It’s strange to see such an experimental band whose music is far away from the „mainstream“ indie being so successful. Fingers crossed for the boys from Leeds as “This is all yours” is currently nominated for a Grammy in the category “Best Alternative Music Album”.

Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker

Recommended by Redheadess: New Orleans-based singer/songwriter Benjamin Booker released his eponymous debut album in August, and it’s everything you need for a sweaty summer evening if you just want to dance the night away.
‘Violent Shiver’, the first song on the album – and also the first single – is already kicking off with an easily recognizable guitar riff that will be sitting in your ear for a bit longer. His danceable garage blues guitars and happy organs will have you on your feet in no time. Benjamin alternates beautifully between huskily sung lines and long instrumental moments that never get boring. It takes three up-tempo pieces until ‘Slow Coming’ lets you rest for four and a half minutes, before kicking back in with ‘Wicked Waters’. ‘Have You Seen My Son?’, a five-minute long hit in the middle of the record, feeds you with a drum intro and a raw one-minute-breakdown of furious guitar-strumming that stretches out into an amazing wave of instrumental experiments before fading out. Benjamin has mastered the art of writing both beautiful blues ballads that make you get lost in his hushed, throaty voice and powerful garage smashers you can lose your mind to. The record is maybe the most important debut of the year.

Bilderbuch

Feinste Seide EP

Recommended by Belle Brummell: What a year it has been for Austria’s Bilderbuch, without them even releasing an album (third LP “Schick Schock” is announced for February 2015). The outstanding “Feinste Seide EP”, released on the 1st of January, was enough to propel the Viennese band to unexpected heights. Even though fans of their first two albums might be shocked at the introduction of auto tune and vocabulary such as “Schwanz” (dick) and your-mom-jokes to their music, boldly embracing trash is not the only development Bilderbuch have shown this year. Yes, on hit single “Maschin” they do sound a bit like indie-rock Backstreet Boys, but their lyrical finesse and taste for experimentation successfully keep them from overdoing their new trash concept, especially as they haven’t dropped their notorious sense of drama and apocalyptic decay. On six-minute track “Moonboots”, singer Maurice Ernst asks the song’s addressee to put her moon boots on, for “a cold wind blows outside”, all of this with a gravity that makes you forget he is singing about, well, moon boots all the while using auto tune. The EP, composed of four tracks plus a remix, gives Bilderbuch’s experimental indie rock a new spin; more pop, more hip-hop-beats, some kick ass guitar solos, as a result making them one of the most exciting bands in German-language pop at the moment. God knows this is not for everyone, but the haters will make them famous.

Bonaparte

Bonaparte

Recommended by Redheadess: Berlin’s craziest combo is at it again: In May Tobias Jundt aka Monsieur Bonaparte released the fourth studio album. Before anything else, the single ‘Into The Wild’ was released, which sounds surprisingly little like any other single we’ve heard from the indie punk project. Music videos for the minimalistic ‘Wash Your Thighs’, the upbeat ‘Two Girls’, the chaotic ‘Out Of Control’, the melancholic ‘Riot In My Head’, the lyrically most brilliant ‘May The Best Sperm Win’, and the 2014-in-a-nutshell song ‘Me So Selfie’ were released over the year as well, without any of them being singles. Monsieur just really likes shooting music videos.
The album’s intro ‘1-800’ tells us next to nothing about what we can expect, before going into the typically Bonaparte-like ‘I Wanna Sue Someone’: steady beats, primitive guitars. It’s simple, but always effective. Tobias Jundt has always mastered alternating between complicated arrangements in one moment and super easy dancefloor fillers the next. And it’s working so well. ‘Me So Selfie’ features Brooklyn-based hip hop artist Tim Fite, who has already toured with Bonaparte in 2012 and has a unique approach to technology’s wonders of the past few years – social media and smartphone trends in particular. The song is a praise to the self-shot portrait (“I’m so sweet I could eat my selfie / Oh yeah, I treat my selfie / If your boyfriend is nosey, delete my selfie / I complete myselfie / Retweet my selfie / Me me me me me and myselfie”) and a hell lot of fun.
Next to the simple upbeat Bonaparte tracks we’ve come to cherish, there’s also stripped-down songs like the above mentioned ‘Riot In My Head’ or ‘If We Lived Here’, that give the record the needed moments to relax a bit.
Finally, there’s no Bonaparte record without a song that makes you think “Did you really just say that?” – In this case, ‘May The Best Sperm Win’, which is about exactly what you thought it would be: “He knows love comes in spurts / Spurts and then some / See, Daddy’s little favorite, she’s got a headstart / Twin brother competing in a fancy sidecar”. Nothing that really surprises you anymore once you’ve seen Bonaparte live, really.

Drenge

Drenge

Recommended by Belle Brummell: Brother duo Drenge from Derbyshire dropped one of the most relevant debut albums in rock music this year, in my opinion. Their straight-forward, grungey garage rock comes with a typical sense of lethargy, yet not without anger. The stripped down guitar-and-drums set-up gives their music a raw and immediate quality. While the album works great as a whole, it’s also brimming with outstanding tracks, such as epic stompers “Bloodsports”, “Backwaters” or “I Wanna Break You In Half”. Although the energy and anger are the album’s strong points, the most memorable track, somehow, is the slow-burning finale “Fuckabout” with its great chorus and undeniable 90s flair, perfectly summing up the feeling of being young and useless.

Jamie T

Carry On The Grudge

Recommended by Annie May: One of 2014’s indie music highlights was definitely the return of the long- missed Jamie T. And with that return came not only a massive UK tour (we’ve been at one of the dates) and some festival and TV appearances but also a new record by the name of “Carry on the Grudge”. The album artwork, an oil painting of a woman breast-feeding, and the first single “Don’t you find” might put some old Jamie fans off. But after that first melancholic, dark single came a song that reminded everyone why we had missed the Wimbledon man so terribly while he was gone. “Zombie” continued straight where “Sheila” and “Sticks ‘n’ Stones” had left off and proved to drive the crowd absolutely crazy at gigs. While the third album as a whole is definitely darker and more thoughtful than its predecessors with songs like “Limits Lie”, “Murder of Crows” and “Peter”, a song about having another voice in your head, it also has its brighter moments. “Love is only a heartbeat away” and “Turn on the light” are songs of hope and “Trouble” sounds almost cheeky and similar to the songs on Jamie T’s debut album. Jamie T’s sound might have changed and matured a little bit but his live shows are full of energy and sing-alongs so if you have the chance to see the man live, then do it!

July Talk

July Talk

Recommended by Belle Brummell: Canadian newcomers July Talk were one of my hottest inside tips this year after I discovered them at an unforgettable instore gig at Reeperbahn Festival. Their interesting flavour of indie-pop ranges from raw to sweet as singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay take turns with their opposing voices. The mixture of punk-ish energy, noisy guitars and pop hooklines makes for some genuine hits, such as “Guns + Ammunition”, “Paper Girl” and “Blood + Honey”. If you ever get the chance to catch them live, defintiely go and dance your feet off.

Kasabian

48:13

Recommended by Redheadess: Three years after their last album, Leicester lads Kasabian surprise with an extremely minimalistic new release: 48:13 (the album length) consists of 13 songs of which three are instrumental intermissions. One-word-song titles, lowercase letters, a two-coloured album concept under the art direction of Aitor Throup – Kasabian have managed to create a stripped-down, completely thought-out album that has deserved every praise it’s gotten so far.
Earlier this year, when frontmen Serge Pizzorno and Tom Meighan painted a wall in Hackney pink, and carefully wrote the album title on it, excitement arose within the fans. When the band came forward with their crazy, carefree video for ‘Eez-eh’, it was beyond anything one would have expected. The hit single, according to guitarist and songwriter Serge Pizzorno, was written in a matter of minutes, but immediately had the potential to become big. Which is exactly what happened. Go to any Kasabian gig this year, and you’ll have people chanting ‘Eez-eh! Eez-eh!’ left and right. It’s also the most celebratory track with the most critical undertones (“We’re tired of taking orders / Coping with disorders / The wrong men have the power / It’s turning my milk sour”). Third single ‘Stevie’, which comes second on the album, is an epic, apocalyptic soundtrack with an outstanding string arrangement, while my personal favourite ‘Doomsday’ – which has not made it onto their concert setlist yet – comes with fast, steady drums and adrenalising organs. The perfect soundtrack for a quick run, if you ever wonder.
Seven-minute electronica track ‘Treat’ is actually four minutes of experimental instrumental arrangement, sounding like a remix of itself, and it’s not the only song on the album to sport more of Pizzorno’s intricate studio work and less simple singalongs. Second to last track ‘Bow’ has Pizzorno on vocals, which shows that he’s finally gone from being the quiet mastermind in the background to full-on co-frontman without whom the band would never, ever be able to exist.

The KVB

Out Of Body EP

Recommended by polinomdivision: This year’s realese from The KVB, ‘Out Of Body’, is a six-song record. Once again the band remains loyal to their concept of haunting melodies in the post-punk/80s/cold-wave style and dreamy, shoegaze-influenced vocals. The EP is filled with athmospheric tunes such as ‘From Afar’ or ‘All Around You’. All in all: magnifique!

The Orwells

Disgraceland

Recommended by Belle Brummell: “Disgraceland” is The Orwells’ second album, which saw the young band from suburban Chicago rise to well-deserved fame. Picking from classic rock as well as skate-punk, they brew together a style fit to reach generations, gripping and authentic enough for the kids yet so musically accomplished as to also convince grown-up listeners. In fact the youthful nostalgia of tracks like “North Ave” or the timeless “Bathroom Tile Blues” are hard to be untouched by, regardless of your age, while smashers “Dirty Sheets” or “Who Needs You” are 100% sure to get the pogo started. The Orwells’ songwriting seems almost too advanced for their tender age, while the sound is delivered with a well-fitting lo-fi touch that keeps the album from sounding too overproduced while also infiltrating it with a nostalgic flair.

Temples

Sun Structures

Recommended by Belle Brummell: Definitely running for “Debut of the Year” as well are British psychedelic outfit Temples. With their dreamy soundscapes, sweet melodies and beglittered faces they quickly turned into posterboys of the new psychedelic hype, but it’s mostly thanks to the brilliant songwriting that “Sun Structures” is such an impressive album. Not a single weak song can be found among the twelve tracks, instead Temples deliver instant hits like “Mesmerise”, “Colours To Life” and my personal favourite “The Golden Throne”. Every melody carves itself into memory, the lyrics are abstract yet coherent with the album as a whole, artwork and all included. Most importantly, they always remain listenable, with the songs forming distinctive entities, not zooming out into endless instrumentals (as they sometimes do on stage), although the genre may tempt one to do so. In this sense Temples are the perfect gateway drug into the psychedelic world.

Trust

Joyland

Recommended by polinomdivision: After a two-year break Trust have released another masterpiece this year. ‘Joyland’ is an amazingly danceable record in the style of synth-pop, wave, post-punk and 80s music. From ambient songs such as ‘Slightly Floating’ to the dancefloor-filler ‘Rescue, Mister’, this LP definitely has got it all. A synth-disco heaven for everyone….

On tour: DZ Deathrays

DZ Deathrays playing Molotow, Hamburg in 2011. (© D. Prahl)
DZ Deathrays playing Molotow, Hamburg in 2011. (© D. Prahl)

Three is a crowd, but two is a party – at least when it comes to Australia’s DZ Deathrays. Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley are hitting German stages next month to make sure the sweat is dripping from the ceiling. Instead of just fitting comfortably in the “garage rock duo” category, DZ Deathrays make sure they’ve got both their punk mentality and their pop melodies in the right place. Their only six weeks old second album “Black Rat” perhaps leans into the latter direction a bit more than the brilliant debut “Bloodstreams”, but that doesn’t mean the two have lost their bite. They’re still writing their angry punk anthems for the kids to scream them back at them. No doubt that their Facebook self-description “We started at a house party… we will most likely end at one” is nothing but the truth. For now though, we will have to do with seeing them turn the cosy rock clubs of Germany’s larger cities into a house party of their own kind.

Tour dates:

03/10 Cologne, Blue Shell

04/10 Hamburg, Molotow

07/10 Berlin, Comet

08/10 Munich, Atomic Café

Tickets via FKP Scorpio

Upcoming album release: Who’s Panda – Better Tell The Truth

WhosPanda_PressLowRes

They’re Swiss, their band name has a cute animal in it – what’s not to love? But before you get misled by their band name or trendy hairdos – Who’s Panda actually aren’t just another vapid hipster band. Their upcoming second album ‘Better Tell The Truth’ is a solid rock record that will convince fans of Band of Horses and Kings of Leon alike. In fact, you could probably take both your dad and your girlfriend to their gig and they’d love it. Opening track “Undressed” even reminds one of Tame Impala with its dragged-out melancholy. ‘Learning From Mistakes’ is a picturebook festival anthem that captures the moment you walk from one stage to the other with a chilly breeze tousling your hair, you know, that moment when the rain has just stopped and the sun is breaking through and happy people in rain ponchos dance through the mud all around you. And they have plenty of those anthems, with choruses to belt out at the top of your lungs and lots of “aaaahs”. My personal favourite, “Other Side”, is perhaps the most ‘rock ‘n roll’ track of them all, a completely timeless song that makes good use of handclaps (you can always win me over with handclaps).
WhosPanda_Cover_LowResDuring the slower songs, the Kings of Leons references are at times almost painfully obvious, most notably on the brand new single ‘God Bless Them Pretty Women’. Fans of KoL should definitely check this one out. Another recommendation is title track ‘Better Tell The Truth’, which you can listen to below. It’s no surprise that this one has been released as a single as well, having all it takes for a real indie hit.
The album ends with 5-minute-track “Dreams” that throws some long instrumental parts in the mix, showing off the band’s versatility once more. All in all, ‘Better Tell The Truth’ shows Who’s Panda’s remarkable talent in songwriting as well as in creating a dense atmosphere within their songs. This pleasantly coherent record is certain to please music fans of all ages.

‘Better Tell The Truth’ is out on October 24th.

Festival Season 2014: Reeperbahn Festival, Hamburg (DE)

Since Reeperbahn Festival is mainly there for showcasing new artists, many of whom don’t even have more than a single out, I’m going to make it short this time and bring you my top 5 new (and one not so new) acts from this year’s installment:

 novemberdecember

5. NovemberDecember

Autumn is here and Winter is coming, so it’s never too early to take care of the right soundtrack for the dark months. NovemberDecember from Denmark apply for this job with not just a fitting band name, but a perhaps typically Scandinavian melancholia with vocal harmonies reminiscent of Kings of Convenience, accompanied by light guitar picking and some added drama provided by the strings section. Their brand new single ‘Save Yourself’ with its memorable chorus has a good chance of becoming this season’s indie hit.

bohicas

4. The Bohicas

The Bohicas were one of my main reasons for buying the festival ticket after having made waves earlier this year with double a-side ‘XXX / Swarm’. Both tracks brought new hope to all who craved some good old-fashioned, leather-jacketed rock’n roll that makes you want to dance as well as pick up a guitar and start a band all at the same time. On the stage of the newly opened Molotow, however, The Bohicas are not a very memorable presence – their songs however all the more so. Not a single track seemed out of line with their fast, danceable set, proving that the debut single wasn’t just a lucky shot and we can expect an album full of potential hits to hopefully come around the corner soon.

manythings

3. Many Things

Other than The Bohicas, fellow Brits Many Things (formerly MT) are the definition of a live band. I discovered them while listening through the line-up and it didn’t take more than one play of their fatally catchy single “Alpha Romeo” to convince me to give them a shot. Live, Many Things fall into the category of “band whose entertainment factor is mostly based on a nutcase singer who spends more time in the crowd than on stage, likes to stand on monitors, photobombs his own band’s live pictures and shamelessly flirts with every female in the audience”. Needless to say, the whole place was having a hell of a time. Definitely a band I would go see again, but I wouldn’t blindly buy a record of theirs without a test listen first.

july talk

2. July Talk

Without a doubt the discovery of the festival for me, July Talk were another lucky find while I browsed that evening’s artists in the afternoon. The Canadian quintet have their very own brand of punk-infused indie pop, their most outstanding characteristic being their lead singers’ vocals: Peter Dreimanis with his sandpaper voice vs. Leah Fay’s sweet and quirky vocals makes a contrast that works surprisingly well. On top of that, they also have a whole bunch of tunes up their sleeve, and the live show to match. While playing the tiny stage in front of the window of Michelle Records, Fay is constantly mounting a record stack or any other elevation she can find, waves at little children standing outside the window or calling out to passers-by to come in, when she’s not busy lying down on the floor or flirting with / dry-humping her co-singer boyfriend Dreimanis. In this case, I would have bought the album, which had just come out that day, right there at the gig (if they’d had vinyl or CDs had been less than €15).

bilderbuch

1. Bilderbuch

The other major reason I bought the ticket were the Austrian guys from Bilderbuch – half experimental indie, half dorky boy band, they are the most refreshing thing to sing in German since I can remember, basically. When I first saw the Viennese band at Berlin’s Magnet Club in 2009 –completely unplanned–, they sounded like a German-language rip-off of the recent British indie rock wave. But when I stumbled upon their second album ‘Die Pest im Piemont’ some time later, they definitely won me over. After all that record was basically a concept album about a plague in Italy, with screeching guitars and lyrics reflecting a slow descent into madness and apocalypse echoed by the music.

At their Reepfest gig, the audience at the well-filled Grünspan sings along to every word of their recent hit ‘Maschin’ off the ‘Feinste Seide EP’, a record that makes the upcoming third album look more electronic, more dancefloor-oriented but with the same love for experimentation. I could go on and on about their wonderful sense of irony that is pitted against lyrics of poetic depth. I mean, this band can write lines like Wenn ich in tausend weißen Nächten Diamanten schlürf / und mich dein Puppentanz zu altem Glanz verführt while at the same time they have a song called “Softdrink” which basically goes Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Pepsi, 7up, alright, which, if you think about it, is the “Burger Dance” all over again. But who could even hold it against these boys, in their trashy 90s outfits, their lead singer Maurice Ernst with his badly dyed blond hair, who is so effortlessly charming and so overly Viennese that it must be for show (or are they really like that, using words like vorzüglich and calling the audience meine lieben kleinen Hamburger) or Michael Krammer on guitars and percussion who looks like a hip-hopper in his basecap but suddenly lays down a kick-ass heavy metal guitar solo. It’s this element of surprise, of humour, and also this sense that these guys actually have a new and fresh approach on pop music, and that approach is playful and ironic and can use auto-tune without sounding shit. Truly, this must be art.

All pictures © D. Prahl