When I first heard this band, I was irritated. The strange noise, the non existent harmonies or melodies. It was all too blurry, too edgy, too brittle and too volitional. Then there was the cover artwork, the painting of a Freddy Kruger like weirdo with a big black hat. And, to top it all off, there were these videos. All of that was by no chance bad and they got a fair share of love from the critics. It just wasn’t for me.
Sometimes it needs time to understand a record. Sometimes it is best to put a record to the side and revisit it a few weeks or months later. Maybe you were not in the mood at the time of the first try. Sometimes I can personally say, that it could take up to a year or more until I was finally ready to appreciate an album or a band. And sometimes it happens that a record might not be your cup of tea, but you understand and value the importance for your own musical pleasures (definitely the case with Built to Spill for me). Music is always a very personal experience and your own identity, your own circumstances play a vitally important part in how you take a specific song or album in.
Ihre Stimmen sind so kalt, dass sie dich zerstören als Mann
Their voices are so cold that they destroy you as a man
Over the course of the year I have written quite a bit about bands from Germany. In retrospect it surprises me how different they sound. But they all add to a bright picture of a wealthy music landscape. You might even be able to draw comparisons between certain acts that seem odd at first.
While musically for example Jungbluth are very far from the sound of Messer, they share the same urgency. Dark nights, grey colors and constriction are all things that came to my mind when I listened to their records. And yet, there’s that one moment, that one part in a song that reaches out to you, that gives you hope and that breaks light through a crack in the blackened window.
I was surprised when I first heard the new single and was looking forward to the album release ever since. And the single Neonlicht is the standout track on the new album. This dominant, warm bassline is welcoming. The added synth melody buried in the mix adds space to the song. The moments when the voice is almost tumbling over add a sense of urgency. And when the guitars break into a clean, reverb driven chorus, you can almost see aurora through the dark night. Die Unsichtbaren(the invisibles) is not a punk record, it’s not a pop record and not essentially an indie record. It’s hard to catch, it’s uncomfortable, dark, twisted and it plays with your fantasy. But it is also captivating. The record holds you on a leash, very calm and apparently free, but it never let’s you really go. You get sucked in to the atmosphere, into this world full of scars, ruins and concrete. It is the antidote to the lush and variegated 1980s revival that hit the pop mainstream in the past few years. We have all these ideas about that decade being all about fun, colors and hairspray hairstyles. But only the other day I came across a blog with pictures of Berlin in the early 1990s and fuck me, it’s not really colorful. We just blank out that this decade was also a decade of renewal, luscious excess and profits that paved the way for the corrupted and ultra capitalist society of which we are currently facing the aftermath. Profits are not for everyone and there was a considerate amount of people who got lost along the way. I guess it’s nice to think that somewhere out there are bands that make music that mirrors these circumstances, not only with their lyrics, but also with their attitude. If not in popular culture and music, where else can you recreate a style of the past while also being so deeply embedded in current events and the here and now. This album is not for everybody, but it was never intended to be. And if you’re willing to engage with that record, it will repay you with one of the most stirring records of the year!