re: talking about memories
City Centre Offices
hough an oeuvre of deft electronic experimentalism has earned former free jazz drummer Hanno Leichtmann heady status among Germany’s downtempo galvanizers, the Berliner seems happiest when indulging his pop fetishes. Under his Static guise, a moniker belying the myriad of sounds, samples, textures, and melodies comprising his idiosyncratic digital creations, Leichtmann crafts intimate and blissful pop-reveries that, in the esoteric world of IDM-minded, emotionally-tinged electronica, seem less destined for the lucrative light of Top-40 charts than for the realm of pop-music idealism; fully-realized ideas of what melodious, hook-laden, five minute songs should sound like, a territory currently inhabited by the likes of compatriots Jurgen Paape and Karaoke Kalk mainstays Marz and Donna Regina.
Yet Leichtmann’s Static releases are far less dance floor-oriented than the work of his aforementioned Kompakt contemporary and considerably more electronic than the sounds purveyed by Karaoke Kalk’s stable of folkies. In the vein of his previous effort, the shimmering Flavour Has No Name, an album that harnessed the distinct voices of To Tococo Rot’s Ronald Lippok and Lali Puna’s Valerie Trebeliahr, Leichtmann’s third full-length, re: talking about memories, alternates between proper “songs” and downtempo “tracks.” While virtually all sounds present are tethered to the slow and stuttered drum beats synonymous with most subdued electronica, ample room is given for pensive vocal-pop, melancholic melodies and even the odd surprise to all find a comfortable niche on the album’s aural canvas.
Opener “Return of She” immediately perks ears with its single-note piano pulse, ushering listeners into an underbelly of crunching beats and frothy fuzz, before Ronald Lippok’s spoken-word delivery sets forth with an air of contemplative dignity and furrowed-brow determination, declaring: “We defied her and cursed her and shouted / To hell with your rain and your snow / Our minds we have set on the journey / And despite of your anger we go.” By the time the wonderfully lazy, fluff ‘n bolts of “One After 808” rolls around, spirits have lifted. Leichtmann tinkers with beats and melodies both languid and lilting while emitting a dense fog of vaporous acid, wielding his Roland 303 Bass Generator like some homemade cloud machine and then stretching its deep, granular reverb so that each individual, pixilated bubble keeping the track afloat can be heard with a billowing buzz.
Surprises come at midsection: “Never Never,” while continuing with the album’s downcast sensibilities and lovelorn musings, is a cover plucked from early 80’s one-hit wonders The Assembly’s discography, and Christof Kurzman’s simple, straight-forward vocals—oscillating somewhere between an even-keeled Bowie and an emotionally weary tremble—lend the track a heart-breaking emotional poignancy. Next up is the bossa nova flecked “Shift, Smash, Surge, Swell,” a track that stands jagged and out-of-place within a record marked by its dreamy pace. Despite this slight grinding of gears however, track-by-track continuity is not eschewed in favor of commercial conventionalism; unlike the bevy of all-too-similar downtempo releases reliant on sultry melodies, Leichtmann’s effort isn’t destined for a cursory spin at Café Del Mar and the doomed fate of dissolving amidst the chatter of sun-baked patrons, nor is it slated for any generic chill-out compilation. Instead of serving as sunset gazers’ soothing segue between afternoon cocktails and chic evening debauchery, beats dart and shift with the frantic frenzy of an all-night reveler reeling in the aftermath of an amphetamine-abetted bender—disoriented and lost amongst the mid-morning streets of the simmering tropics—as a trumpet weaves in and out of the mix with the slick sensibility of a 60’s espionage flic. A welcome cut from leftfield indeed.
The remainder of re: talking about memories straddles vocal-driven pop and aquatic ambience nicely, with only one true misstep along the way, the all too campy album-closer, “The Moon Had A Crack.” Though that’s hardly enough to diminish or reason enough to ignore this fruitful release. And while Leichtmann’s latest effort may never resonate with that spine-tingling “a-ha!” moment, nor guide Berlin’s burgeoning music scene into wholly uncharted territory, it certainly warrants repeated listens as well as earns a welcome spot on any downtempo electronica fans’ record shelf.
Reviewed by: James Jung
Reviewed on: 2005-12-05
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