Whilst researching links for yesterday's piece - Dreams by Run DMT - over at the LebensStrasse Records site, my interest was piqued by another of their recently issued albums. A little bit of digging ensued and the following, rather intriguing quotes were unearthed;
"Superb, subtly realised side of ghostly fifties/sixties hypno-pop with a real Lynchian charm."
"This is the soundtrack that David Lynch would have ordered from Phil Spector if Twin Peaks had been filmed by the beach."
Being a huge fan of Messrs Lynch and Spector it didn't take me long to hit up the download button, several minutes later the album was sitting on my hard drive awaiting my attention. This one doesn't disappoint from the off, first track 'I Pray to You' blasts in with that classic rumbling Spector Wall of Sound. An occluded sax embeds itself in the mix to play the chorus hook surrounded by festive, jangling percussion. Klaus Von Barrel's vocal is spare and sounds as if it has been recorded in a broom cupboard.
Elsewhere on the album, 'The Way Down' introduces a buzzing, monophonic keyboard melody whilst a sexually indeterminate singer delivers a vocal worthy of Nico. 'I've Been Glad' serves up a spectral take on Doo Wop whilst 'Discretely' loops female vocal harmonies into a echoing Rock 'n' Roll ballad.
The set ends with the appropriately titled 'In the End', another beautifully realised 50s style ballad boasting a swooning female backing, piano flourishes and a lead vocal that sounds like a sedated Bobby Vinton or maybe even Roy Orbison, on valium. The lyrics are sublime too, Von Barrel mournfully croons the lines;
"I'm through with my old life, I love her yes I do
I'm searching for a new home, could it be with you
But i don't know just where I'm going and I don't know just where I'll be in the end"
The album seems to have been produced in the same lo-fi, straight to tape manner as the recordings it so lovingly harks back to which lends the proceedings a glowing warmth and luminosity lacking in it's digital counterparts.
It would be easy to dismiss this album as an empty pastiche or throwback curio but, given the recent success of Alex Zhang Hungtai's Dirty Beaches in roughly the same area, these are lazy comparisons. It's obvious that Klaus Von Barrel loves the original music and sounds he references here so explicitly, something which shines through on every track making this an absolute joy to listen to.
Recommended to those who appreciate the references to twisted 1950's Americana in the work of David Lynch, the Phil Spector wall of sound and the decaying grandeur of lugubrious Rock 'n' Roll balladeering.
'In the End' taken from the album At Breath's End (2012);