station 17 Blick (LP + CD, £19.95)label: Bureau B
New production from the artist collective founded in 1990, comprising musicians with and without disabilities. Following releases on Mute, Mercury and What's So Funny About, this is their tenth album and their first on Bureau B. Guests: Jean-Herve Perron and Zappi Diermaier from faUSt, Gunter Schickert, Ulrich Schnauss, Pyrolator, Harald Grosskopf & Eberhard Kranemann, Andreas Dorau, Schneider TM, Andreas Spechtl and Datashock. Imagine a remake of Miami Vice in the Hanseatic port of Hamburg, gleaming automobiles weaving through the bustling city, neon signs buzzing overhead. Our protagonist resembles the entertainer Helge Schneider, screeching the tyres of his white Maserati convertible. The car radio blasts out the smoothly pulsating sound of Station 17 as we cruise round town – our destination, the new album “Blick”, released by Hamburg electro label Bureau B. If their preceding album “Alles für alle” represented the band's first pure pop creation, “Blick” is a triple backwards somersault in style. This will come as no surprise to anybody who has followed their progress over the past 30 years, crossing musical boundaries as they go. Experimentation is in the DNA of the band founded by musicians with and without disabilities. For the “Blick”recording sessions, they decided to shake off the dust of the town and the modern world, ensconcing themselves in the Watt’n Sound Studio on the North Sea. Three weeks in the summery seclusion of this coastal idyll enabled the band to cast off the pop restraints of their previous album and enter the realms of free improvisation. No predetermined structures, no preconceived lyrics, the music should exist in the moment, live in the present – not even a basic key was set as a point of reference. Thanks to this creative freedom, “Blick” developed into a work which, on the one hand, relates to some of the greatest exponents of Krautrock like Popol Vuh and, on the other, is a more relaxed, warmer. less vocals-focused cousin of “Die Entstehung der Nacht” by the Goldenen Zitronen. Allusions to the legends of experimental, improvisation-friendly electro-krautrockers are quite reasonable, given the roll call of collaborators featured on this album. Step forward Andreas Dorau, Jean-Hervé Péron and Zappi Diermaier of faUSt, Andreas Spechtl (Ja, Panik!), Pyrolator, Grosskopf Kranemann, Datashock, Günter Schickert and none other than Ulrich Schnauss, now a member of German electronic powerhouse Tangerine Dream. Emulating the modus operandi of the aforementioned, “Blick” documents the immediate, unfiltered and unalloyed interaction between the Station 17 musicians. The spectrum of this “dialogue” is extended through the musical guests – and captured sonically by Dirk Dresselhaus alias Schneider TM in the engineering room. The beautifully titled opener “Le Coeur léger le sentiment d'un travail bien fait” offers a rough idea of the direction in which the album is heading – a driving, easy beat and a jazzy bassline, punctuated by short bursts of squealing horns. The album's secret hit is up next: “Dinge” layers catchwords uttered by Andreas Spechtl and Station17 singer Siyavash Gharibi over infinite, captivating soundscapes. Elsewhere, Andreas Dorau offers up his endearing appraisal of the post-capitalist perversion we know as “social media” on the decidedly upbeat number “Schaust du”. Once you have opened yourself up to the positive magic of the nine tracks on “Blick”, you are sure to discover the honest power lurking in the music of Station 17. What it does to the listener fulfils music's greatest purpose – it adds a little happiness.
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