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Sankt Otten: Gottes Synthesizer

img  Tobias Fischer

So - have Sankt Otten discovered the wholy grail? Stumbled upon the secret of Divine music? Or have they, as indicated in the German album name, at least found god's favourite instrument? Be it as it may, the duo's latest release is yet another manifestation of Stephan Otten and Oliver Klemm's personal brand of humour. Each title - the album's included – feels like a heartfelt presence from the musicians to their audience. Examples include “480 Pixel, die ich an Dir liebe” (“480 Pixel I love about you”), “Diesseits vom Jenseits” (“This side of the other side”), or “Fast neu ist auch gebraucht” (“Almost new is second hand, too”).

The absolutely magnificent cover artwork by Salustiano Garcia Cruz, with its embedded, subversive and complex imagery, adds to the powerful impression created by these thirteen current manifestations of Sankt Otten's fusion of zest (through words) and sobriety (through music). Probably the only other band remotely capable of pulling this off are Stars of the Lid, with whom verbal creations like „The tired sounds of Stars of the Lid“ or „Stars of the Lid and their refinement of the decline“ similarly delineate a common ground between deep, serene sounds and a kind of charming fun, which never disrupts or thwarts the music, but rather adds an additional layer, allowing one to glance at the creators behind the sounds.

Another essential aspect of the album consists in its focus on the synthesizer as the formation's main instrument in terms of shaping the musical aesthetics of the new record. On Gottes Synthesizer, it has turned into an equitable partner for Klemm's recognisably virtuoso ebow-guitar, supporting the melodic and harmonic explorations of the duo and allowing them to create compositions far off the beaten track, simultaneously marked by a sense of coherency and unpredictability. Chapeau.

The entire album revolves around its thirteen-minute-long tite track, located in the second half of the release. Here, as elsewhere, the complexity of the arrangements as well as their casual flow, formidably propelled, safe on two exceptions, by Stephan Otten's electronic drum kit, are beyond compare. It is in the delicate friction between the respective textures of synthesizer and guitar that the album truly excels - compared to the feeble efforts of others trying their hands at the same instrumentation, Sankt Otten are a league of their own.

By Hellmut Neidhardt

Homepage: Sankt Otten
Homepage: Denovali Records

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