When anyone thinks of popular, danceable and bouncy synthpop with an edge and smooth, deep vocals, it's likely that images of And One
or songs like "Panzermensch" or "Get You Closer" will pop into their heads. That is the case with many people all over the world because of the worldwide popularity of this German synthpop group. Hailing from the German synthpop scene of the late 80's, Chris Ruiz and Steve Naghavi formed by using a drum machine and two keyboards. In 1990 they released their first single that still receives plenty of club play today Metalhammer
. Now over 16 years later and several albums later this German synthpop group has released their latest work titled Bodypop
. While the lineup has changed over the years, Steve Naghavi has stayed as the anchor for this group with Chris Ruiz rejoining not too long ago and Gio Van Oli recently joining for the release of this and their previous album.
While Depeche Mode
may have been the key inspiration to the duo as they started this group, they have lately become one of the prominent bands to look up to. Still creating simple Techno and Synthpop tunes, they manage to create captivating music that is fun and moving all at once. Their mostly German songs manage to attract fans from all over the world, no matter what their mother tongue happens to be. The language of music breaks down so many barriers, especially the fun, danceable beats this group manages to put together. If you're looking for something fun and dancey, just about any work this group has released will please.
Frontfeuer EP - Review
Hot on the heels of Bodypop
we have this new EP of all exclusive pieces, not a single with remixes of any tracks from Bodypop
The closest thing to a remix comes in the form of "Rearming Straftbomber" which is an english version of the popular club-track "Straftbomber" from their Aggressor
album. With five tracks, this is a nice bonus for any fan to have.
After the powerful piece "Rearming Straftbomber", the catchy electro piece "Master Master" picks up in all it's silly, bouncy style. This is one of those pieces that's almost a guilty pleasure rather than anything you could take seriously, as the song itself is something of a parody on certain aspects of life. "A Kind of Deutsch" picks up the force in the music though the vocals and lyrics still have a certain silly aspect to them that I find hard to take seriously. Luckily "Steine Sind Steine" digs deep into the roots of the darker, heavier hitting EBM sounds and deep vocals. This finally brings us to "The Force" which carries on in much of the same style, moving and heavy and slightly monotonous in the vocals, not really the melodic synthpop that comes out on the album.
While it's not the greatest disc with the most melodic synthpop style, it comes with pretty much everything that fans can expect. It's a nice bonus for fans to have, especially the die-hard ones that just have to have the collector items.
Bodypop - Review
Since the all-german release of Aggressor
, hearing the news of this new album was exciting for those of us that don't have a complete grasp on the german language.
They continue on with their solid electro-pop style, semi-robotic vocals and bouncy music, it's absolutely everything fans could possibly wish for. The album contains a dozen of these solid tracks ranging through somber intro and outro instrumentals, fun, club-friendly pieces and somber moods in between.
The instrumental intro "Mein Anfang" kicks off the disc and slowly pulsates it's way right to the club hit on this disc "Military Fashion Show". This piece is awesome in the style that fans will recognize in a heart beat from the bouncy synths to the solid percussion and the somewhat melodic vocals. This upbeat mood continues throughout several tracks on the album as you could absolutely expect. "So Klingt Liebe" picks up the german vocals but maintains that same melodic synthpop style. In much the same way "Body Company" really moves along, turning up the intensity a bit the hard-hitting synth fans will love. "Stand the Pain" has a groovy swing rhythm to it that should also really please fans of the fun club-friendly music, while still maintaining that melodic approach that this album really maintains. The final upbeat piece on the album is "Love You To The End" which quickly became a favorite of mine with every element of solid synthpop you could really expect.
The other half of the album is the good mix of somber moods ont his album. Setting aside the solid synth and electro-pop sounds are the excellent pieces "Enjoy the Unknown", "The Sound of Believer" and "The Dream" among others. Each of these pieces still maintain so much of the solid synth sounds this band portrays so well, even though they're not full of pounding beats, or bouncy rhythms, they have great lyrics, melodic vocals and excellent music. The mix on the album is nice too, mixing these pieces in among the others is some great variety and a nice touch. Of course nearly every song, from the upbeat to the somber pieces have electronic loops that remain steady throughout each track which may rub some people the wrong way, but I think it's expected in this genre.
Wrapping up the album is the instrumental outro "Dein Ende", leaving the album much the way it started. With that the album comes to an end and I think it's really something that people can enjoy.
Agressor - Review
Over the years this band has managed to release one catchy album after another. They've experimented in different Techno and Synthpop fields and have many hits that club patrons will recognize. With this album they continue building on their established style and continue to create new and fun music.
With this being their first domestically released album in North America, they will now tap into an audience that has already been quite receptive despite the geographical and language barrier. Ironically, this album is entirely in German, so we still have that small barrier that doesn't always pose a problem in this music scene.
From beginning to end, one thing that stands out is the flow of this album as each track mixes into the next, yet each one has it's own unique rhythm and musical elements. This is enjoyable for me as I like to listen to an album in it's entirety from start to finish. Like many albums before, you can just about pick any track from this disc and dance to it, making it a club-friendly album, but that doesn't necessarily make it a great work. While I find it hard to find many problems with it, one or two tracks get a little boring or annoying with some of the synth loops chosen that seem to go on and on without variety in a monotone fashion. In some ways this can be fun if done right, as this group will often take a mechanical or robotic approach to much of their music.
Fun tracks and highlights for me include "Schwarz" with it's fun beat, robotic elements and smooth vocals. The way it blends with "krieger" is also really cool, almost like they wanted to beatmix the entire CD. But the uniqueness of each track still comes out very well. While the previous track was slightly cold and mechanical, this one has more of a warmth to it like the hit single "Get You Closer" in so many ways. The powerful beat easily makes this probably one of the best dance tracks. The space between this song and "sternradio" is probably the only "dead air" you'll hear on this disc, but this track quickly picks it up in pace and dynamics. Slowly building with a simple synth loop and the smooth vocals slowly building to a catchy full sound. The harmonic vocals on this track also break away from the cold, mechanical nature of other tracks, making this variation something unique and enjoyable.
With few exceptions this album follows this pattern of electronic dance music. "Tote Tulpen" breaks the mold slightly with an electro-clash flavor. "kein anfang" and "kein ende" serve as the intro and outro instrumentals to wrap things up nicely in a packaged product that fans can enjoy. This talented group has managed to do it again and this album is the result. I highly recommend it for fans new and old.
Label: Metropolis Records