ODD COUPLE (GER)
Tuesday March 14th 2017 at 21:00
(concert - rock 'n' roll heavy)
Entry 9/7 for students
How can you describe a musical quantum leap? Maybe it’s best to explain it in numbers.
Flügge [meaning “independent” or “to spread one’s wings” in German] is 44 minutes and 41 seconds long, includes 14 songs and 13 instruments divided by two musicians drawing on at least ten different musical spheres of influence. Sampling and digital post production: zero.
The second album by Berlin duo Odd Couple has become an eclectic mix that doesn’t fit too easily into a category. When Tammo Dehn and Jascha Kreft were working on their debut “It's A Pressure To Meet You”, which was released two years ago, they were still at the primordial soup stage of sultry garage-rock. Flügge outgrew the age-old framework of guitar, bass and drums with a confident vehemence. The record breathes rock music, speaking the language of the Blues with riffs in widescreen and keyboards under cover of night, but nevertheless structured by the skeleton of a modern interpretation of Krautrock and the repetitive punching beat of classic hip-hop productions. The result is a sound that the German music scene has not yet heard.
Flügge consistently directs its gaze inwards. Six years after their arrival in Berlin – a circus of coolness, drugs and trendy hang outs – the two kindergarten buddies from Ostfriesland still feel somewhat out of place. So, what should they do? Another satirical outcry, like their debut? No, instead they had a rummage around in their own “Gehirnkasten” (“brain boxes”), to name one of the songs on Flügge. “We made a conscious decision to be introspective,” explains Dehn. “On one hand, we can’t exclude ourselves from the criticism, but on the other hand something had developed in us over the years that we just had to get out”. Initially this included the typical ingredients of pop: love, pain, anxiety, overwork and instability. But the duo managed to do this without losing sight of their humorous, albeit caustic, take on their own contradictions – and, consequently, those of a whole generation. “Our age group is living out the self-discovery only dreamed about by our parents which, ironically, has been made possible by a lifestyle that people reject today – a normal job and a savings account” says Dehn. “We wanted to examine this position.”
This is particularly evident in the title song “Flügge” in which Odd Couple describe a trip to California – “Es war schön, Mami!
”(“It was really good, Mommy!”) – which led to their supposed enlightenment about life: “Ich glaub’, ich hab’s verstanden” (“I think I understood it”). The problem is that it takes more than just going on a journey by yourself or joining a yoga class for beginners to formulate a theory of everything. It is more a case of life throwing you a never-ending cycle of challenges that constantly change and in the end most people are none the wiser for it. Why is that? “Let's go online so you can choose out of it,” suggest Odd Couple on the album’s moody highlight “Très Mello”, declaring, “Too many options make me feel like I'm lost.” We want to have our cake and eat it too. City and tranquillity. Nature and infrastructure. Forest and electricity. Preferably with Wi-Fi. The fact that this social criticism works so well musically is based on the band’s own self-observations. “Flügge feels like our first real album,” says Kreft. “This is us, here and now.” It’s easy to see why. Before its release in 2014, their self-produced debut album was left to stew for exactly two years and three months on their home computer’s hard drive. For “Flügge” however, it was the other way around. The album was recorded in full within just a few weeks, mixed by Dehn himself and mastered by Kai Blankenberg. “It was refreshing,” says Dehn. “Some songs only materialized once we’d started the sessions.” This meant that technical crutches were largely prohibited. Despite its sonic diversity, all of Flügge was performed; nothing was sampled. “We wanted to take on the challenge of producing a modern sound using analog resources” the duo explained, “Basically, we want to be anything but a retro band.”
With Flügge, Odd Couple have certainly made the grade. Although the record helps itself to parts from the rock warehouse, it doesn’t simply rebuild what has gone before. Songs like “Orbit Traveller” or “Serve” are daydreams in song format, “Am I Evil” features riffs and distortion pedal in just the right places and “Go Sees” with its falsetto chorus is a little masterpiece. References or comparisons would be out of place at this point. Flügge stands on its own. Odd Couple belong to a time when rock music is almost desperately seeking its own identity – a positive anachronism. Their version of rock can sure tell us a thing or two... and it’s fun!