Manifesting as the 10th record of multi-faceted illustrator, musician and performance artist Schlammpeitziger, following 2018’s Damenbartblick auf Pregnant Hill (Bureau B), this new album is as elusively innovative as his 1992 beginnings. Jo Zimmerman, the figure behind Schlammpeitziger, gained great renown in making impeccably sophisticated, serene lo-fi krautronica. This burgeoning influence upon music and culture itself has meant that Zimmerman has remained a vital part of the Cologne scene, releasing material on labels such as the inimitable A-Musik.
Of course, such a reputation could only be found with constant reinvigoration of one’s mould, as Schlammpeitziger has constantly; and continues to do so with Ein Weltleck in der Echokammer. Similarly to the preceding album, Zimmerman crafts stunning aural vistas which continuously mesmerise. With this album however, as he is wont to do, Schlammpeitziger reimagines his established sonic palette while retaining everything which fans love him for.
A welcome addition to the Schlammpeitziger sound are Zimmerman’s vocals, which appear on three of the eight tracks, first track Weltleck being one. Here, Zimmerman’s gentle yet galvanising vocals flit across electronic whirs, elongated, low-flying bass and scratchy guitar. As implied, this mingling of organic and synthetic components gives a combined dystopian aura, of two different but beautiful worlds colliding. Handicapfalter’ vocals compliment a layered synth arrangement, redolent of krautrock greats like Harmonia. This track references Kraftwerk’s “Spiegelsaal” like a steel drum Absurdistan, expanding the meteoric pull of the Schlammpeitziger‘s art-electro sound. The layers of bass-y reverberations and spring coil-like synths wrap around each other, while a positively Mediterranean disco beat enraptures in the latter half of the track.
Wohlwegewerk also achieves a similar marriage of organic and synthetic instrumentation to Weltleck. However, it is more of a mirage, where the seemingly electronic parts could perhaps be instruments, and vice versa; setting sitar-like notes against synth ripples, envisioning a dreamy soundscape in it’s surging trudge. The organic/synthetic contrast ignites similarly bold imagery as the album’s cover, both the music and art seemingly commenting on technology’s increasingly overarching reach; rendered by Zimmerman and colleague Ulrike Goken, who also created a video in visual interpretations woven from the same fabric as Schlammpeitziger’s music.
Besides the notable disco and already incredibly refined electronic intonations, Schlammeitziger also introduces otherworldly dub rhythms and echo loops. The reggae-dub presence unexpectedly dulcifies the series of other Schlammpeitziger influences though, as Zimmerman tells, this is simply an established element which has been realised here:“Reggae expert Bettina Lattak is a good friend of mine and she has been telling me for years that there are dub and reggae influences in my music. I had never really given it much thought, but when I began to introduce these elements more consciously into my music, everything clicked into place quite naturally. I found it fascinating, completely free of any religious context, simply following the sound.”
Every Dayhey offers the finest example of Schlammpeitziger’s reggae-dub vigour, with a maelstrom of sonic ingredients floating atop one another. Sensations of gentle melancholy, such as those derided from forgotten dreams or a hazy dusk, are brought on by the combination of a dance-y repeated keyboard part, a wandering, whining synth, and metallic loops of percussion. Further bouts of lamenting restlessness come from the modulated, woozily dubbed vocals, as they croon of an incurable ennui: “Saturday, is the hangover day”/ “Sunday, is just a fake day”/ “What can I do?” As proven here, Schlammeitziger’s vocals, solidify themselves as a highlight of the music; so subtle, yet so texturally thick and affecting. Dreamily, the song fades away with the whispered “Everyday” bashed ceremoniously by the bounce of the synth.
A stoic and slow build-up of percussion begins closer Rappelvolle Leere, while a fuzzy synth arrangement besets whirring murmurations, pleasingly robotic, emits a perfect fanfare for the album’s finale. It’s sorrowful but crucially upbeat tone is carried into the ether by Zimmerman’s warm and soothing “ba-ba-ba da-ba” vocal bleat, fading sweetly.
Ein Weltleck in der Echokammer extends the Schlammpeitziger sound with rigorous creativity, all while doing so incredibly succinctly and surprisingly.
Released September 25th on bureau, listen to Weltleck below.