“Remember” – Lali Puna
Lustrous electro-pop from the veteran German quartet Lali Puna, but the first new song heard from them since 2004. Centered on a recurring sound that has the aspect of a wordless question, the introductory beat is oddly poignant-sounding, and nicely launches this smartly orchestrated mix of rubbery aluminum synth lines and understated percussion. Everything’s electronic but not too blippy or scratchy; there’s instead something palpably formed about the sound, something that gives this the feel of musicians actually playing instruments rather than twiddling knobs. There are even sounds mixed in–am I making this up? I don’t think so–that resemble the sound of fingers changing chords on guitar strings.
Meanwhile, Valerie Trebeljahr’s wistful vocals find their whispery place in the hypnotic mix, neither too forward nor too restrained; and listen too to the shadow of male harmony accompaniment all the way through, most clearly heard on the recurrent refrain, “Will you remember me?” Oh and don’t miss what happens at 1:29 when for seven seconds or so the smooth electro stylings are stripped away and we’re left with a most idiosyncratic aural skeleton, as if beneath the limpid facade is a deviant alien core.
“Remember” will be found on Our Inventions, Lali Puna’s fourth album, scheduled for an April release on Berlin-based Morr Music.
MP3 via Morr Music.
And here’s another not-quite-typical holiday song. You won’t hear a lot of out-and-out electronica on Fingertips, not because I have anything against the sound per se, but because by and large I find the genre lacking in what I will, with apologies to S. Colbert, call “songiness.” We get a lot of beat and texture and neato sounds but often each track emerges like something sliced out of the electronica-o-matic machine, without an individually compelling sense of structure, arc, or storyline.
While “24.12.” has its quirks—there is no chorus, either musically or lyrically, and nothing really resembling a hook—I still feel that Austrian Bernhard Fleischmann has delivered a fully realized song here, and then some. Unusually for electronica, this one is rooted in the lyrics, so don’t miss them: it’s a holiday story song of an unusual nature. The male voice—not Fleischmann’s, but a guest vocalist who goes by the name Sweet William Van Ghost—sings only the song’s prelude, setting up the situation and the character who then steps forward to sing the rest of the song. I won’t give away the premise, but I will note that Marilies Jagsch, the woman who sings in the song’s second half, is not who she appears to be, character-wise. And it may well be that twist that gives this strange song its depth.
In the middle of the nuanced electronica ambiance, the one central, recurring motif you will hear is the most musically unsubtle thing imaginable: a descending C scale, played note by note on the guitar. And yet by kind of hiding in plain sight there, it lends the subtle air of holiday song to the tale, as that descending line, in other contexts, carries the distinct flavor of Yuletide about it. (It’s a tricky thing, using the unsubtle subtly.) “24.12.” is a song from Fleischmann’s latest album, Angst is Not a Weltanschauung!, released in November on the German Morr Musice label. Weltanschauung, by the way, is one of those wonderful, not entirely translatable German compound words; the overall title means something to the effect of “Fear is not a worldview.” Which is itself a great message for a not-quite-typical holiday greeting card, I’d say.
MP3 via Better Propaganda.