DJ Hell - Zukunftsmusik

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  • The name of DJ Hell's latest album, his first since 2011's Teufelswerk, translates as "music of the future." It's ironic, then, that so much of Zukunftsmusik is inspired by the past. There are obvious echoes of Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, David Bowie, new romanticism, electroclash and any number of gothy synth acts. Some of these tracks could have come out in 2002, '92, '82 or even '72. The album overflows with nostalgia for days gone by. The shocker is that Helmut Geier often makes it work. Much of Zukunftsmusik steers well clear of the dance floor, with an emphasis on quasi-classical melodies and brooding ambience. "Anything Anytime" drapes elegiac piano, pulsing strings and a vocodered voice over a dirge-like beat. Treated vocals also inhabit "High Priests Of Hell"—but here, the sliced utterances feel more malevolent, sitting as they do in a bed of jagged rhythms and disorienting clatter. "With You"—a cover of a bleakly beautiful Robert Görl cut from 1983, "Mit Dir"—has a romantic allure, aided by the slightly sinister vocal presence of Stereo MCs' Rob Birch. "Wir Reiten Durch Die Nacht," is Geier's Kraftwerk pastiche, driven by the gentle throb of an "Autobahn"-esque bassline. "2 Die 2 Sleep," with its droning synths, mournful horns and wistful languor could be a lost track from the instrumental half of Bowie's Low. Bowie's ghost, in full Kurt Weill mode, materializes again on the ambitious "Army Of Strangers," a cut full of grand gestures and over-the-top orchestration. "Car, Car, Car" is the half-speed cousin to Gary Numan's "Cars," its barely-getting-out-of-first-gear rhythm and grandiose synth line leavened by deadpan (and amusingly inane) lyrics that explain "a car is not just a car." Yes, it's derivative. But Geier borrows from his sources with adoration and reverence. Zukunftsmusik's dance floor excursions, however, are less distinctive. Tracks like "Guede," with its gentle 303 pulses and analog swooshes, or the percolating "Wild At Art" feel a bit rote and listless. Of the album's club cuts, the most dynamic is the previously released "I Want U," a salacious tune with a buzzsaw grind and a jackboot stomp. In German, the album’s title has another meaning—"pie in the sky." Geier says the album is his effort to "make sense of the uncertain world, the chaotic present and the fearful future." Even if he's fixated on the past, perhaps that's his way of avoiding dwelling on the pain of what is, and what will likely be. He's dreaming of an improbable tomorrow, one that's as seductive as days gone by.
  • Tracklist
      01. Anything Anytime 02. Car, Car, Car 03. I Want My Future Back 04. Army Of Strangers 05. Wir Reiten Durch Die Nacht 06. Inferno Pt. 1 07. High Priests Of Hell 08. Guede 09. 2 Die 2 Sleep 10. I Want U 11. K-House 12. Inferno Pt. 2 13. Wild At Art 14. With U feat. Stereo MCs 15. Mantra