Music can take you to many places – it can inspire and uplift. Or it can confirm a sense of isolation, sadness, and even despair. The power of music covers the whole range of human emotions because ultimately it is produced by fellow souls.
One of music’s greatest powers is in providing a sense of escape from whatever our own individual reality happens to be. Therefore music can provide a haven, a place to travel to. To achieve this the artist needs to totally immerse the mind of the listener and take them out on a visual journey, an exploration, a trip if you like. This is one of the powers of art, in its many formats, and as natural seekers this is why we are so fascinated by it.
German cinematic trip-pop duo Sankt Otten, Stephan Otten, and Oliver Klemm, provide the perfect stimulus for that journey with their own musical vision. Formed in Osnabrueck in 1999, their first full length album Eine Kleine Traurigkeit was widely acclaimed. Signing to Australian label Hidden Shoal Recordings, who have been attracting attention for bringing to a wider market experimental, ambient, post-rock and indie music amongst a wide and eclectic range, they have now released Wunden Gibt Es Immer Wieder.
Their music is often described as being perfect for the visual arts, film in particular, and yet it also travels way beyond that view and creates hypnotic, melancholic, sometimes dark and sometimes delicately lush textures that slowly soak into the mind creating a landscape of images. Hidden Shoal clearly recognises the value of these artists and have just re-released Eine Kleine Traurigkeit and the single from that album, Fernfahrer, to sit alongside this years Wunden Gibt Es Immer Wieder.
Wunden Gibt Es Immer Wieder. (Hidden Shoal Recordings, June 2008)
This is the latest release from Sankt Otten and represents something of a progression from their earlier catalogue. The band themselves describe it as ‘drawing upon the heart of their previous forays into dark melancholic trip-hop yet discarding the form.’ The result is an album of truly epic proportions, hugely cinematic and musically addictive. There is a powerful dream, trance quality to the superbly crafted arrangements that range from minimalistic to the intense, moving effortlessly between both ends of the spectrum.
Ambient, moody melancholia, through to orchestrated anthemic sections. The orchestrated title track embodies the previous statement perfectly. The epic scope of “Der Groove Des Guten Gewissens” meshes into a whole that is seamless, timeless, and smoothly effortless. The hauntingly minimalistic “Depressive Elite” captures the mind, taking it on a journey of soul searching isolation. Wunden Gibt Es Immer Wieder draws to a close with “Stille Wasser” a wonderful chill down that washes away the grime of the city.
Eine Kleine Traurigkeit (Re-released, Hidden Shoal, September, 2008, originally released 2000, Eleganz Records)
The album creates a darker slightly disturbing and unsettling atmosphere. “Elektronik Nein” has your mind wondering down dark forbidden corridors. The hypnotic “Eukalyptus” continues the vibe with both containing hauntingly dramatic German voices. This is majestically dark, brooding, material that creates a distinctly uncomfortable yet compulsive and bewitching sonic journey.
If you want a musical out of body experience then these two albums will provide just that.