Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: Sankt Otten : "Wir Koennen ja Fruende Bleiben" (Hidden Shoal Recordings)

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sankt Otten : "Wir Koennen ja Fruende Bleiben" (Hidden Shoal Recordings)

Germany is really an under-rated nation, in terms of what it has contributed to the music world. Consider Tangerine Dream who, way back, in the early 70's laid out the blueprints for, what is now, contemporary electronica. Then Kraftwerk unleashed their "Man Machine" on an unsuspecting world, changing it forever. Even this side of the millenium, The Notwist proved, with "Neon Golden", German creativity is at an all time high. Sankt Otten's "Wir Koennen ja Freunde Bleiben" deserves to be held in the same esteem as those aforementioned albums.

Roughly translating as "Let's Remain Friends", this album from the Osnabruek quartet is an ultra-cool cinematic experiment, that should be soundtracking the atmospheres of smoke-filled jazz clubs in some futuristic world. The brainchild of percussionist Stephen Otten, one of the most alluring aspects of "Wir Koennen..." is the differing styles of rythmns, from trip-hop to jazz and electronica to straight barrelled rock. "Hoeneraush" contains a dirty hip-hop beat, its massive, clunking sound is warpped up with a melody with a dark heart. You can't help but nod your head along or tap your feet to this sinister track.

There is also a certain something about Oliver Klemm's guitar tone, on several tracks his work is simple, but devastatingly effective. On "Zum Schweigen Verdammt" his rich, swirling textures combine immensely with the washes of strings creating a noirish soundscape. The album, as a whole, is such an expansive effort, there are a number of reference points, but they are all presented in a unique Sankt Otten way. "Bluehende Landshaften", for example, recalls Massive Attack's "Angel", with its seductive undertones that are overlayed with guitar, piano and string parts. The brooding beat ensures "Bluehende.." builds tensely for over five minutes before simmering and then quietly dying out.

"Fandenscheing", meanwhile, would not feel out of place on a Miles Davis album and evokes those smoke-filled jazz club images again. While, "Fallen and Fangen", one of the few tracks that contains vocals, provides this album's most upbeat moment. The seductive female voice provides a respite from the darker tracks and ensures "Fallen and.." is one of the more optimistic sounding numbers on here.

"Wir Koennen..." is a melting pot of influences and sounds. A grandiose statement that touches the cornerstones of noir film soundtrack, atmospheric rock, jazz and Trip-hop. At times it matches the brilliance of Portishead's "Dummy" or Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" and should certainly be considered by fans of those albums. The differing sounds will guarentee that this will be an alluring listen every single time you hit the play button.

Rating = 85%

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