Rock, pop, hiphop, electro: at the beginning of every month we shine our search beacon into the nation’s studios and clubs from Kiel up north to Weilheim way down south. Together with Zündfunk, Bavarian Radio’s scene magazine, we showcase the latest music by riveting off-the-charts bands. Pop made in Germany can also be downloaded here.
Stefan Schwander has carved out a very special niche for himself in recent years as Harmonious Thelonious, mixing African, South American and Middle Eastern rhythms with minimalist electronics. On his new album Cheapo Sounds, he turns his back on all that. Reduced to a single instrument, the Monomachine synthesizer by the Swedish company Elektron, which appeared about a decade ago (and is by no means cheap), he has created a collection of song sketches reduced to a few tracks. These seem extremely brittle at times, but develop a hypnotic magic that is hard to resist.
Techno and leftfield house mark the work of Munich Dj and producer Sam Goku. While gigs in some of Europe's most famous clubs and his eclectic set at the last edition of the UK's Secret Garden Party made him international, he has never stopped honing his skills as a mixer and selector, as well as a producer. Which you can clearly hear in the new material, harbingers of his now-released second album Things We See When We Look Closer.
Wir laufen nebeneinander 1,5 Meter Abstand
[We walk side by side 1.5 meters apart] Mira Mann, "Abschied"
Laid back, reflective, abstract and poetic, this is how Mira Mann's debut album weich can be described. The artist, who works as a writer for the cultural magazine Das Wetter and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, among others, speaks her cool reflections to bony, largely electronic and often lyric sound. The tempo is moderate throughout, no sound too much, you can feel how much thought went into the production. Attentive Popcast listeners will recognize in her one of the founding members of Munich post-punk band Candelilla, whose second album was produced by none other than Steve Albini. A fantastic work.
And we will never sympathize with these iron jaws
Until the coast is clear – hide
Gemma Ray, "Be Still"
Gemma Ray & The Death Bell Gang is an edgy experiment in cinematic electronica, in some ways a departure from her usual smooth pop-noir. But Death Bell Gang also mixes the sad and the evil with tenderness and longing, and there's always a bell resonating somewhere. The British-born Berliner-by-choice already looks back on a multitude of releases, but also shows herself refreshing and curious on this latest work.
Pascow, the already more than 20 years old punk project of the brothers Alex and Ollo Thomé from the contemplative Rhineland, belong to the very stable scene of German-language punk rock, which, however, hardly finds a hearing outside the German-speaking territory. But in Germany all the more - their last album entered the top 50 of the album charts on its release in 2019. Nevertheless, they are miles away from the mainstream - according to their own statement, they have become rather harder than softer over the years.
Haven’t you heard of gravity?
It’s making it hard to move forward, let me say
It’s holding us close to the places
In which we live, in which we stay.
Power Plush, "Heavenly"
Eastern Germany is often in the news for all the wrong reasons. Brain drain, right-wing radicalism, stagnation are the most common associations found in the media. Yet it's easy to overlook how vibrant the music scene is in cities whose populations are gradually being rejuvenated by eastern Germany's excellent universities. Chemnitz, for example, also has a vibrant subculture, and the four-piece indie pop troupe Power Plush is the best proof of that. Coping Fantasies features a young band that has not only been able to gain plenty of live experience in the area for years, but also won "Best Newcomer" at last year's VUT Awards.
The fantastic Yosa Peit, whose album Phyton was released last November, sees music as a flawless space. Throughout the album's tracks, one senses a free spirit, a desire to experiment, and an absence of fear. The minimal funkiness of her tracks, the multitude of sometimes strange instruments, the clicking of distant hi-hats are a rarely refreshing listening experience. It is fitting that, in addition to her artistic activities, she organizes workshops for girls and non-binary people under the project name Error Music, where musical technique can be tried out with an open mind and free of expectations.
Heute bin ich eingeladen auf einer Party in der City
Today I am invited to a party in the City. Wildes, "Leger in Schwarz"
Electroclash, but also Neue Deutsche Welle retro feelings come up with the Munich duo Wildes. The track presented here, the opener of their debut album Klischee is a simply held electropop number with supercooled vocals and breezy criticism of capitalism. Live, the pair from Zurich and Munich have been present mostly in their hometowns, supporting Germany's indie rock heroes Die Nerven and Tocotronic, among others.
"We live in an age of recycling," says Pauline Schulz aka DJ Gigola in an interview with German music magazine Groove, and there is talk of different influences and openness, the funny DJ Gigola and the serious Paulina, of pop and techno, trance, hip-hop and club culture. But what seems exciting, surprising and clever in an extended live set, condensed to track length becomes a challenge that doesn't always succeed. On Fluid Meditations, however, her debut album, she works with spoken passages consisting of mediations, which gives the tracks an extra dose of originality.
With her debut solo album Dreamscapes, Polish cellist Dobrawa Czocher expands the boundaries of neoclassical music with electronic sounds, masterfully layered atmospheres, but always lagging behind the various string tracks. The album always remains firmly anchored in classical music, but effectively potentiates the meditative mood of the spiraling tracks. As the album title suggests, the content is supposed to be about the world of dreams and their role for the unconscious, but outside of this esoteric theme, it offers an extremely grounded, appealing and competently and sophisticatedly arranged gem.
Over a year ago, we introduced a “new” artist on these pages, who was at the time still unknown to most. That has changed a bit in the meantime: From the hip-hop scene of the former German capital Bonn, Die P has already developed a loyal fanbase since 2017, and now, after a brilliant performance at the Splash Festival, they are going into the next round with a new business environment. Last year's second EP was already released on the 365XX label, which exclusively signs acts identifying as female. Label boss Lina Burghausen also runs the popular blog 365 Female MCs, whose name says it all: for a year, a new female musician was featured every day.
Me again, allow me to pick up where I left off
Without Tom Liwa, the German music scene would be significantly poorer. The former head of the wonderful Flowerpornoes is responsible for one of the most beautiful German-language albums ever with 1994's Red' nicht von Straßen, nicht von Zügen, and has continued in his tradition of folk-inspired poetic songs both with band and as a solo artist. Now he has released what he himself calls "another mature work", which shines with a new band and various great features.
Another fixture in the German cultural landscape and known to Montrealers through his many visits to MUTEK, is Stefan Betke aka Pole. The master of the dubby techno sound is not only known as a music creator, but also as a cunning mastering engineer (Dubplates & Mastering) and label owner (~scape). With the just released Tempus, Pole has delivered another stylistically confident and technically sophisticated listening album that fits seamlessly into his oeuvre.
I like it when things are allowed to appear and develop in the moment. In the studio I have everything ready to go. I want to be able to start right away and see where it takes me.
Simon Popp in the webmagazine "15Questions"
An interesting discovery is the Munich drummer Simon Popp, who on his now third album researches the possibilities of metal(lic) percussion. The result is a collection of complex and beautiful compositions. Light and dark, organic and synthetic sounds are the means by which Popp explores the limits of his instruments on Blizz. A fantastic discovery for fans of organic electronics, minimal percussion and instrumental music ranging from (quasi) jazz to neoclassical is the Squama label, also Munich-based.
Things are getting rougher with the Hamburg electropunks from Zucker. The queerfeminist duo Pola and Chris (aka Gigolo Tears) have already won over large sections of Hamburg's music celebrities, including Frank Spilker (Die Sterne), Sophia Kennedy and Stella Sommer, and are now finally opening up to the mainstream with their self-titled debut album. Their minimalist arranged 3-minute electro anthems have the potential to caramelize the alternative scene in Germany.
The Hamburg-based singer Derya Yildirim and her international Grup Şimşek are an absolute exception in the German musical landscape. Their traditional Anatolian folk, tracing her family’s Turkish roots, faces the difficult task of casting a respectful and authentic version of traditional music into a form relevant in the present. Thus, Dost 2 also features more experimental, psychedelic and funky sounds. This is how tradition can be fun.
What are people actually good for? Anna McCarthy and Manuela Rzytki explore this existential question in their project, aptly named What Are People For? Humorous, poetic and political is how they want their upbeat, inventive raw tracks to be understood. The looped beats, mostly spoken (shouted) lyrics, and all sorts of analog electronics create an anarchistic energy that's hard to resist. The self-titled debut album of "dystopian dance music" is out now on Alien Transistor, the label of German indie rock heroes Notwist.
I’ve lived a thousand lives to get here
Failed a thousand tests
Tried my best, but this path takes as long
as my sins to confess
After studying jazz at the ArtEZ University of Arts in Arnhem, Munich-born Mulay moved to Berlin, from where the gifted singer has since 2020 produced a series of releases that bode well for her future. The soulful R&B on Ivory effortlessly holds its own against even the strongest international competition, the confident compositions are absolutely flawlessly executed and the vocals at times seem to come from another world. The five tracks composed by Mulay himself meander effortlessly between contemplative ballad and experimental rhythm & blues. Impressive.
Only 20 years old, Malva Scherer had to finish both her high school graduation and her first album, Das Grell in meinem Kopf, at home due to the pandemic. She and her partner-in-crime Quirin Ebnet had never performed until the album's release, but have had plenty of practice writing and producing breezy indie pop. Perhaps fittingly, Malva cites YouTube sensation Dodie Clark as an influence, but that shouldn't obscure the fact that she is a huge talent. While the album, in its variety, still seems a bit indecisive in places, the poetic melancholy that permeates all the work and, of course, the more than competent vocals are a perfect foundation for a successful career.
It was something new, something that sounded like it could only be done in Germany; and, as I discovered later, could only be done by guys who were born in the east of Germany in the days before the wall came down.
Daniel Miller (Mute Records) on To Rococo Rot
John Peel Sessions are a rather rare accolade for bands from German lands. Stefan Schneider and Robert and Ronald Lippok made it as To Rococo Rot. Already in 1997 and 1999 the band was brought to London to present their unique playful sound. Not entirely without reason the term Krautrock comes into play again and again when describing the music, but that falls considerably short. The trio's hypnotic, trippy post-rock is tailor-made for these Peel sessions, whose release comes only after an inexplicable delay of over 20 years.
Stuttgart noise group Die Nerven (one of the best band names ever – it means "The Nerves" and "They're getting on one's nerves" at the same time) returns with their version of a black album, their fifth. The cover is adorned with a black sheepdog on a black background, and things are similarly dark musically. It's an angry and uncomfortable work about a rapidly changing world in which one's privilege is recognized as finite and guilt-inducing. The band's singer and guitarist, master producer Max Rieger (All Diese Gewalt, Obstler) recorded the entire album live and without metronome to create the intensity appropriate to the seriousness of the world situation. It was released on the band's parent label, the great Glitterhouse Records, organizer of the Orange Blossom Festival, which one can only heartily advise German travelers to visit.
And another trio in the November Popcast of the Goethe-Institut: Slimgirl Fat, Ebow and Walter p99 arke$tra are the funny named Gaddafi Gals. They've always been cool, but on Romeo Must Die, their new album , they've perfected their blend of R&B and rap. The result is an update of the sound of the 90s - soul, trip hop, rap in elegant futuristic disguise. In particular, the dominant vocals of Nalan Karacagil aka Slimgirl Fat reach a whole new level on Romeo Must Die. The sky is the limit for the Gals.
Colombian artist Lucrecia Dalt, a Berlin resident for ages, calls her album ¡Ay! a "space cast in clay: smoky, dimly lit, seductive and vaguely menacing". On her last album, at the time also featured on the Popcast, the beautiful Anticlines, electronic music still dominated. On ¡Ay!, however, there is a shift into more abstract, experimental music. Drums, trumpets, double bass and a very inventive selection of atmospheric samples accompany their ghostly interpretations of Latin American folklore. "Lounge music for the afterlife" is aptly stated on Apple Music.
Ein Gespräch gib’s vorher und
Ein Gespräch dann nochmal hinterher
Es geht um’s Tägliche
Doch das Tägliche fällt uns schwer
[A conversation before and A conversation then again afterwards It's about the daily But the daily is difficult for us] Chuckamuck, “UV Index”
If Jacques Brel and Steven Malkmus were to give birth to triplets in Berlin, the result would be Chuckamuck. The eclectic garage-pop trio maintains a skillful balance of punk attitude and artful lo-fi folk, just as their "fathers" would have liked. On their new album with the enigmatic name beatles, the trio create coarsely crafted, free-spirited art in a world of their own, where there are only old apartments at 1970 prices and all dogs are at least 16 years old. Just like the band.
Marco Döll aka Mädness is the best kept secret of the German rap underground. Crime is not his thing, Mädness belongs to the down-to-earth, technically skilled German rappers whose timeless style has given the genre its own identity, far from imported trends. On Maggo lebt, the new EP, popcast listeners will find familiar features from Fatoni and the congenial Amewu.
The Viennese label Heimlich has taken up the cause of cross-border downbeats. Part of this collective is also the German-Austrian Dj and remixer duo Oberst & Buchner, who deliver a beautiful work with Marble Arch, whose synthesizer pads and elegant arpeggios are always consistently placed in the service of the composition. The result is a warm, timeless synthpop whose strongest moments happen in the instrumental tracks.
Ströme work in a similar vein, although they rely entirely on analog technology and boast that they do not use computers at live performances. On their second album, the duo works with Franz Ferdinand founding member Nick MacCarthy on some tracks. However, this album also shows its strengths especially in the instrumental pieces.
Was kommt nach höher schneller weiter
Nichts mehr was noch Spaß macht
[What comes after higher faster further Nothing more that is still fun] 1000 Robota "SCHMA"
There was a huge hype around the Hamburg band 1000 Robota in the late nineties. The rough postpunk of the then teenagers (Hamburg Brennt) hit the nerve of the time, but after two albums it was enough, the band members pursued other plans. With their new album 3/3 the trio now suddenly reports back after more than 10 years, well matured and a bit calmer. The creative power has been preserved and as in the old days the spun lyrics are almost always performed by two voices, but the arrangements have become richer. If you like, you can order the vinyl from the label - the first 500 copies have been individually packaged by the band. Each cover art is unique.
The great Jens Friebe’s breezy pop numbers brighten up any gloomy moods. Am Ende Aller Feiern (At The End of All Parties) there is no sullenness with Jens Friebe, but mischievous reflection of not always easy times, which were nevertheless worth living. Packed into an arrangement, whose complexity is only revealed to those who take the effort to listen closely.
There’s a gangster on my bed
With a hoodie on her head
She’s looking good
She’s looking fine
The Düsseldorf Düsterboys, "Gangster"
In the same way as Jens Friebe is looking behind himself to assess the damage the Düsseldorf Düsterboys say of themselves that they make "music for the party after the party". In the spinnoff project of the hard-to-google International Music, Peter Rubel and Pedro Goncalves Crescenti celebrate the sound of the 1960s with ironic seriousness. Opulence, with noble acoustic guitars, sparingly woody percussion and airy flutes is what they do well. Who would have thought that the forgotten folk sound would be revived in the not exactly cosmopolitan city of Essen.
Please take good care of your children
Local Suicide, High Buildings
Gloomy electro sound is back in high demand. Vamparela and Brax Moody, currently also represented in the playlists of Miss Kittin fans with their side project Dina Summer, are taking advantage of this for their project Local Suicide. The efficient blend of new wave and techno disco provides Generation Z with new material made from old twang. But it's easy to dismiss the Greek-Berlin musician and DJ duo as a retro phenomenon, but it doesn't really take hold. Their stylistic confidence protects them from too harsh criticism. Every wrinkle fits, no sound is too much. And the sound is fun anyway.
Fatime Kosumi aka Andrra with Kosovar roots, tells stories from her homeland in Kosovar Albanian, often with setting of traditional texts to music. They are about the role of women and their oppression in the traditional social structure of Kosovo, but also about issues of emigration and identity. A cutting-edge work with roots in the country's history and a picture of the trauma that runs through the lives of so many Kosovar women, men, girls and boys. Produced in Berlin, Andrra has assembled a fine team of musicians who skillfully use acoustic as well as electronic means to lift the traditional sound into the present.
The Popkornzone around the artist and singer Ferdinand Dölberg delivers brilliant silliness. For those who are versed in German music or enjoy googling and getting their bearings, we recommend the young Andreas Dorau and Tom Schilling as references. Edgy pop-punk with dadaistic lyrics awaits the fans of the Berlin hipster quintet, which despite these classic ingredients sounds quite unique and thoughtful.
The Gebrüder (brothers) Teichmann, also brothers in real life (Andi and Hannes, musicians, DJs, label makers and cultural activists), have long been an integral part of the Berlin techno scene. They have "experienced Berlin's transformation from a subcultural oasis to a global brand," but have never bowed to the mainstream. Nor did they have to. Rather, they have traveled extensively, including at the invitation of the Goethe-Institut, and have always curiously sought out the interfaces with other cultures and music makers. Their latest project, Time Bends, which is based in new music, was created in collaboration with percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky, who is currently active at the Berliner Festspiele
There is probably no one in the world who feels anything but adoration for Hendrik Weber aka Pantha du Prince. Gentle pads and conciliatory chimes have been his trademark since his masterpiece Black Noise, released back in 2010. Since then, it been nothing but the finest quality. His new album Garden Gaia also continues this tradition. In the silence lies the power. However, on the single to the album, Heaven Is Where You Are (Bendik HK Edit), a moving midtempo breakbeat number, there is even singing this time.
Video directed by Til Obladen and Aiste Tamosiunaite
Video directed by Til Obladen and Aiste Tamosiunaite
Hamburg is the music capital of Germany. Of course, musicians from Berlin don't like to hear that, but there is some evidence that simply cannot be denied. One of them was undoubtedly the band Superpunk. Their pointed Northern Soul influenced garage punk with witty socialist lyrics was a revelation. After the band broke up, two of the band members decided to continue with the same concept and similar musical direction: Die Liga der gewöhnlichen Gentlemen, which conveniently features the record company boss on guitar, continues the Superpunk tradition without fail. Pure bliss!
Ezé Wendtoin from Burkina Faso delivers a quite curious mixture of German-language party song and African tradition for the Popcast of the Month for August. But the sunny and cheerful party sound is deceptive, because Ezé not only shuttles musically between his worlds, but also physically, within the framework of several aid projects initiated by him, the goal of which is to improve school education in his African homeland.
Alles ist voll Scheiße
Die Welt ist so gemein
Ich finde alles zum kotzen
Und leg mich ins Selbstmitleid rein
Everything is shit The world is so mean I think everything sucks And I feel sorry for myself
Frau Kraushaar "Lamentierendes Schwein" (Bella Utopia, 2022)
Another classic from the Hamburg scene is the long-standing musician and artist Frau Kraushaar. With Bella Utopia, she has delivered an excellent electronic folk album peppered with dadaistic lyrics, sometimes dealing with the little things in life (a found object at the flea market, for example), but sometimes also with basic attitudes to life (as here above in Lamentierendes Schwein).
Modern Life, the new album by saxophonist and producer Ralph Heidel, was created in collaboration with what is currently perhaps Germany's best-known producer, Max Rieger. The work is characterized by great experimentation, but its roots are in jazz and chamber music. Striking, besides some mini-percussion instruments, is the use of a very old wall piano, and of course again and again the alto saxophone of the maestro himself.
Rene Pawlowitz aka Shed reflects in his introspective new album Odenbruch themes of his old home in the East of Germany. It's about these small places, local gas station, the view on the water, musicm that penetrates from cars driving towards Berlin, rural avenues, weeping willows and abandoned factories where once industry flourished. A landscape to leave and return to, a pastoral work full of seriousness, released in the catalog of Ostgut Ton, the record label affiliated with the legendary Berghain.
Since the nineties, Brezel Göring and Françoise Cactus have packed German-French friendship into crazy sounds with their Berlin band Stereo Total. Françoise Cactus, whose deliberately exaggerated French accent was the band's trademark, passed away in early 2021. A good year later, Brezel Göring now releases Psychoanalyse (Volume 2), his first solo album since the end of Stereo Total. The album shows Brezel Göring from his vulnerable side and is marked by the loss of his band partner and life companion.
Mache den Rap wieder soft und zart
Fühl mal Gefühle und komm drauf klar
Mach nicht auf Boss und fühl dich hart
Denn jede Emotion macht uns stark
[Make rap soft and tender again Feel feelings and get along with it Don't act like a boss and feel tough Cause every emotion makes us strong] Finna "Zartcore"
Hip hop is only for tough guys? Not at all, thinks the Hamburg rapper Finna. Her performance includes not only heavy beats and clear statements, but also pink outfits and a pinch of glitter. Finna has given her current debut album the name Zartcore. Under this motto, she wants to bring the soft and delicate into the direct, often aggressive world of hip-hop and make more diversity possible in the genre.
Compared to the many solo artists on July's Popcast of the Month, Magnetic Ghost Orchestra seems to be going the opposite way. The jazz group around composer and guitarist Moritz Sembritzki consists of 17 members, who especially appreciate the bombastic sound of this band size. This is what the band is presenting on their first album Sand.
For the eponymous track of their second album, electro musician Perel has brought in reinforcements from Montreal. Jesus Was an Alien features the voice of Montreal's Marie Davidson. In keeping with the title, Perel's mixture of minimal, house and eighties new wave repeatedly incorporates synthesizer sounds that could have come straight from the UFO of a scifi film.
The question of who all should hear Raison's debut album can be answered quite simply in the words of their album: as many people as possible. Raison is the project of three musicians Schorsch Kamerun, PC Nackt and Mense Reents, who live in Berlin and Hamburg. Similar to Brezel Göring, the three are not newcomers. Schorsch Kamerun and Mense Reents were already active with the Hamburg band Die Goldenen Zitronen since the eighties. As Raison they work mainly with a minimal instrumentation of keyboard instruments, few drums and thoughtful vocals.
Hamburg's music scene occupies a special place in the German musical landscape; compared to other cities, it stands out for its great independence, humour and diversity. The collaboration of producer Victor Marek (Knarf Rellöm), choreographer Rica Blunck, who is also based in London, and humorist Jacques Palminger (Fraktus) is one of these phenomena blessed by madness. Their project The Kings of Dubrock cultivates an idiosyncratic blend of Wild West, dub reggae and summer pop. Jacques Palminger speaks, Rica Blunck sings, the strangest words rhyme (for example, the German terms for toolbox and landing strip), you must come up with that first. However, this crazy, fantastic record, Dubbies on Top, probably wouldn't fit so well into the winter landscape.
Let the voices of dead poets
Ring louder in your ears
Than the screechings mouthed
In mildewed editorials.
Listen to the music of centuries,
Rising above the mushroom time.
Bob Kaufman Believe, believe
Another collaboration comes from the stable of the Notwist brothers Markus and Micha Acher, who, with radio playwright Andy Ammer, have produced a tribute to the beat poet Bob Kaufman. The poet, who died in 1996, left behind a considerable body of work that has not yet received the attention it deserves. The Plastik Beatniks and their label Alien Transistor now want to change this. On the album All Those Streets I Must Find Cities For, illustrious guests such as Patti Smith and Moor Mother recite poems by the "Black American Rimbaud," as Kaufmann is also known.
A straighter path is taken by Kat Frankie, an Australian who has long been based in Berlin. Her album offers perfectly produced, opulent chamber pop that sometimes deals with ephemeral consumer goods, sometimes with immortal hope. Shiny Things is the apt name for her work, which might have a hard time holding its own against international competition such as Florence K.
Roman Flügel is one of Germany's most respected techno producers, but is better known internationally as a DJ. Only with Alter Ego, his joint project with Jörg Elling Wuttke, was he able to land a veritable club hit in 2004 with Rocker. His first solo album Ro70 from 1995, on the other hand, is not known to most fans, as it was only released in a limited edition at the time. So, the decision was made to re-release the album, which is suitable for living rooms in the best sense of the word, now on his own label.
Das Universum ist meine
Und die Physik
Verehre ich wie
[The universe is my Great Love And physics I adore like my mother] Erdmöbel Das Vakuum
To close this month's popcast, there is once again a great discovery to be made, long-hidden to people outside of Germany. For several decades now, the Cologne-based band Erdmöbel has been a guarantor of lyrical pop full of clever influences ranging from classical guitar pop to bossa nova. They're just somehow too good for this world, so they'll remain our shared secret, and that feels right, too. Guten Morgen, Ragazzi is the name of the new album full of enigmatic gems, among which is the song Bernoulli Effekt presented here.
The popcast of the beautiful month of May shows a calm and relaxed facet of the German music landscape. Leading the way is a release that one could locate in Canada. Berlin resident Plastikman aka Richie Hawtin and Chilly Gonzales, an unrecognized genius on the keys who shuttles between the two countries, have set to work on a reinterpretation of Plastikman’s (aka Richie Hawtin) 1998 album Consumed. Celebrated to this day as a pioneer of minimal techno, the masterpiece has lost none of its power in Consumed in Key, this piano-accompanied remix version, produced by none other than Montreal’s Tiga.
Reminiscent of the early 90s, the sound of the Ferge x Fisherman project is an amazingly coherent blend of jazz and hip-hop. Peppered with international guests like Detroit’s Black Milk, the enormously talented Munich-based Victoryaz, and South African singer Hunter Rose, the Nuremberg duo delivers the perfect sound for warm summer nights.
Schläfst du denn schon?
(Are you asleep already?) Freundliche Kreisel
Sympathetically spun, humorous, experimental, but also somewhat uncompromising, Freundliche Kreisel follows their ideas on their debut album. A bunch of electronic and acoustic instruments accompany the dreamy, often spoken lyrics. If you want more, look for Baldruin and Brannten Schnüre, the band members’ other projects, which are also well worth a listen and provide insight into the diversity of influences of this incomparable band.
JakoJako takes a different, straighter path. The Berghain resident DJ predominantly uses modular systems in her minimal tracks, whose smooth, straight sequence loops she enhances with an enormous amount of reverb. The album Metamorphose develops its fascinating power through a tangible calmness. Here is an album produced with patience. JakoJako, whose real name is Sibel Koçer, works, appropriately enough, in a modular synthesizer store.
Toechter is a playground, an open laboratory for new sounds and experiments, the group says in the interview. The trio, consisting of Katrine Grarup Elbo, Marie-Claire Schlameus and Lisa Marie Vogel, uses only string instruments (violin, viola, cello) with a few short vocal passages on their album Zephyr, which they process, distort and loop with a considerable arsenal of effects pedals. The result is a beautiful, but strangely enraptured album between chamber music and cinematic drama.
Get Well Soon, the project of Konstantin Gropper from tiny Biberach in southern Germany, sounds like great pop made for an international audience with its opulent arrangements full of strings and brass. His debut album from 2008 was already released internationally by the British label Nude (in Germany on City Slang), and he hasn't slowed down since. The graduate of the Popakademie Mannheim, a kind of cadre school for Germany's young pop talent, presents his new album on April's Popcast, and once again he doesn't have to hide from the competition. With its brilliant songwriting and wonderfully polished production, the album has what it takes to become a classic.
I’ve been to Hidalgo
Where the corn grows
And the wind blows
I get around
Future Kult "Hildalgo"
Future Kult, consisting of musicians Sion Trefor and Benjamin Zombori from Cardiff and Berlin, went on a self-organized residency in the Mexican countryside for 3 months last year. The world seemed tragic, contradictory, cruel and desperate to them, and this had to be processed into a musical project. Benjamin already knew his way around Mexico, and so the choice fell on the remote town of Hidalgo. In the seclusion, a gloomy work of dystopian impression was created. A unique project.
Street dandy, dubious magician and prophet with a background as a drummer (The Golden Showers, Oum Shatt, Die Türen), Chris Imler has been considered a grand seigneur of the Berlin underground for decades. Now he has recorded a new, well, beautiful album: Operation Schönheit. With clanking, jingling and sawtooth synths, however, Imler remains rooted in the tradition of electronic post-punk in which he and his grooves stand.
Some time ago, Popcast featured the project Hotel Kali, a Goethe-Institut-sponsored residency in India by Berlin-based musician Theresa Stroetges and some local musicians. In this month's Popcast, the multi-instrumentalist also known as Golden Diskó Ship, together with Christian Hohenbild and Sophia Trollmann, presents a new project, the band Painting and the album Painting is Dead, part of an interdisciplinary art project they called Painting in 3D. Presented here the canonical Symmetrical Patterns.
Ich steh´ an der Fleischtheke - man behandelt mich nicht nett. Die Lüge schreit: ‚Ich bin die Wahrheit‘ - doch es ist Tourette. Das sind die Leute aus dem Internet.
I'm standing at the meat counter - they don't treat me nice. The lie screams, 'I am the truth!' - but it's Tourette's. These are the people from the Internet. - Mittekill
Friedrich Greiling and Jan Hohmann have been Mittekill since 2007, transporting the Neue Deutsche Welle (new German wave) into the age of techno. Their new album Phantom Club is a rather dark, stripped-back story that suits them extremely well. The single Die Leute aus dem Internet, a sparkling midtempo number, addresses the relationship between reality and the Internet, which not surprisingly evokes positive associations for hardly anyone, but was implemented with the band's typical humour and some cleverness.
Jesper Munk calls his new, fourth album Taped Heart Sounds an embrace. It features cover versions of songs by his musical heroes-including Etta James, Tom Waits and Jacques Brel. Relaxed, always in the mid-tempo range, and blithely drawing from folk, blues, soul, and everything in between, Jesper Munk makes the songs entirely his own, as evidenced by the love song Baby, originally by Donnie & Joe Emerson, presented here. The unusual recording technique with multi-track cassettes, Jesper Munk explains in the interview of our March Popcast.
The Knarf Rellöm Arkestra is one of the
many projects of, well, Knarf Rellöm, a veteran of the German music scene little known outside the German-speaking world. His always clever and mischievous songs have little mainstream appeal, though on the new album Kritik der Leistungsgesellschaft (A critique of the meritocracy, a typical Rellöm title), he manages many a snappy bouncer in collaboration with his partner of long time DJ Pattex and Tillamandaso, such as the song Say It Loud, du hast Scheiß gebaut presented here
Maya Shenfeld has succeeded in creating
a stunning debut album. On In Free Fall, the Berlin native from Israel experiments with minimalist synth lines and arpeggios that develop a meditative, enchanted magic through their repetitive simplicity. The classically trained guitarist leaves her main instrument almost entirely aside on the album but draws on her experience in the compositions. The featured piece Body, Electric is a classical-like meditation with a ghostly intensity.
Denn ich definiere mich darüber wer ich bin
Nicht was ich habe, haben werde oder hatte
Und es bleibt die ewige Frage: Haben oder Sein?
For I define myself by who I am Not what I have, will have or had And the eternal question remains: to have or to be? Amewu, "Haben oder Sein"
Amewu, German-Ghanaian from Berlin, has been around the hip-hop scene for
some time. His new album Haben oder Sein (Have or Be) is a stripped back, mature rap album that is an experience not only lyrically but musically as well. In the opener Amewuga presented here, which is about Amewu's life as an outsider between cultures, one even discovers a sample of early Depeche Mode.
The March Popcast closes with one of the
Gaddafi Gals, Ebru Düzgün aka Ebow, whose new album Canê is situated between German trap and soulful R&B, seamlessly following its predecessor K4L. In the interview she talks about the album, the time of the pandemic and also about her new label Alvozay (Turkish for "girlfriends"), which specializes in promoting BPOC artists, who are still heavily underrepresented on the German music market. To be heard in closing: Her ballad Trouble.