März - Wir sind hier [Karaoke Kalk - 2004]Ekkehard Ehlers is one of the main players in the German electronic scene. However, leftfield electronic music is not his only passion. He is back with the second album of März, his pop project.
In März, Ehlers works with Albrecht Kunze, an electro jazz musician. Wir sind hier is their second album, coming two years after Love Streams. When talking about Picasso, some people say that his career proved that a fantastic abstract painter had to be able to be as good in “classical” painting. Here lies one of the interests of März: is Ehlers able to provide the goods when it comes to pop music? Luckily, he convinces us he is very quickly, so we can enjoy the album with such stupid (coming to think of it) questions in mind.
Opening track Forever never is one fabulous song. It’s a sort of mix between the best of pop, electronic and folk music. The multi-layered processed sounds that are so typical of Ehlers music mixed with a mix (!!) between pop à la Beach Boys and acoutics guitar à la Nick Drake. A symphony of a new kind, a smell of spring in the air. März im Park is a little different, beginning with strange sounds, before turning into a pop song on banjo over field recordings made in a park, before turning into processed “aquatic” sounds and treated guitar fading out into the newt track, The River, a gorgeous song with strings, acoustic guitars, glockenspiel, trombone and beats. A ditty turning halfway into yet another symphony. Tropige trauben is quite different: more electronic, more focused on sounds for sounds than sounds for songs, it brings a nice change with its pedal steel and large array of homemade sounds. I’m not that convinced by Blaue fäden, mainly because of the beats that, to my ears at least, spoil an otherwise very fine aural world. Back to pop with Some things do fall: up-tempo (but discreet) beats, banjo, accordion. Unfortunately, the next track, Biber & Enten is a dose more of mediocre house that sort of harm my enthusiasm. Things get back to normal with Welt am draht. Quite different to anything on this album so far, it’s a very soft electronic, strings, glockenspiel and xylophone ballad that reminds me of Kazumasa Hashimoto (see review in our archive). A beautiful moment. Oktober im Park is a bit like März im Park: strange sounds and then a great pop song with vocals in German. I haven’t said anything about the vocals yet: I don’t know who sing, but it’s a very pleasant, warm voice that plays a big role in making of the songs a success. Up next is the perfectly titled The pop song. If only pop sounded a little more often like this… Happy, bouncing banjo melody, uplifting beats, double-bass riffs. Last (and title) track Wir Sind Hier is the third mini pop symphony on this album: guitar, beats, trombone, glockenspiel, claps, layers and layers of processed sound, a few lines sung in German. A real beauty. If Brian Wilson had been 23 in 2004, he might very well have written something quite close to this.
Last year, Ehlers released one of my favourite electronica album of 2003. In 2004, he does it again, but this time with a very good pop CD. Congrats!
Available via Aim-Distribution.François Monti