A few months ago, my world fell apart. There was no grand occasion or a monumental shift which had occurred; I had simply clicked play on Soldat Hans‘s Es Taut for the first time. From the first crushing chords, through the initial introduction to the vocals, all the way to the poignant strings, Es Taut slowly unravelled me as I listened. Even though I’ve heard it countless times since then, it still has an immensely powerful impact on me. Something about the way in which it straddles doom, post rock, jazz and its own style just cuts me to the core and opens me up to a lot of introspective pain and self-reflection.
Which, naturally, is what the album set out to do. Looking at the influences that made Soldat Hans happen sheds a bit more light on where the band members come from when approaching these issues; many of the acts listed below tap into this same desire to feel, face and excise such emotions in a healthy and productive way. Especially noteworthy is the wide range of artists presented below. Most of them have some melancholic or even depressive edge but they take different approaches in expressing these edges. Thus, we get a glance into how a diverse sound such as Soldat Hans was forged and the many places in other music from which it came. Enjoy and don’t forget to spin Es Taut when you feel up to it; it’s a ride you should experience at least once.
Suffocate for fuck sake – Blazing Fires And Helicopters On The Frontpage Of The Newspaper. There’s A War Going On And I’m Marching In Heavy Boots
An ingenious album with a brilliant title. The band was unknown to me for a long time and that’s why I only took note of this album years after its release. The Swedish band was definitely a discovery that left its mark. The album reflects for me the perfection of imminent fragility and infinite eruption. A combination that fascinates me and in which I end up again and again without consciously looking for it.
Jungbluth – Part Ache
A piece of music that has inspired me a lot in the last few years. Each song is full of energy and unbelievable suspense. This music creates a feeling of piss, love and petrol bombs and whatever it is that makes this combination – in fact, once I’ve started to listen I can not stop it. A brilliant album in the spirit of DIY which is an essential part of my musical thoughts.
65daysofstatic – The Fall of Math
The first time I heard about 65daysofstatic was the remark “the album sucks you in”. I was getting into post-rock at this time, I just discovered the greats such as Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai and then this album showed up.
The album starts with a burst of noise, a distorted e-drum starts a beat, a voice sample kicks in and tells us that we live in a apocalyptic wasteland, but the worst is yet to come. I was immediately hooked. There are some great songs on the album, for example the crowd pleaser “Retreat! Retreat!” or the piano-driven “Aren’t we all running?”, but what I really like about this album is how homogenic the sound is. No song feels out of place and even the small noisy soundbites in-between certain songs are a pleasure to listen to and get sucked into. The band went on to release several great albums, but the magic of hearing their debut will be something I will always cherish.
Omar (guitar / vocals):
Savoy Grand – People and What They Want
This band enchanted me immediately. I first heard their song “Took” on a mixtape a friend of mine made for me when she moved away from our hometown. It was a rather melancholic compilation which included bands like Red House Painters, Feist, The Black Heart Procession and many more of this kind. I hadn’t heard of the term “slowcore” at that time but realized later on that a great deal of this compilation would now more or less be considered as such. This mixtape would also get me interested in bands like Codeine, Slint, The For Carnation, Kepler and Seam. What always brings me back to Savoy Grand though is the impact it had on my understanding of songs at this time. And what still fascinates me about this record is its sound and its achingly slow pulse which carries away some beautiful guitars, synths and endearing vocals. Minimalistic, yet of a rejoicing certainty in every note played. The opener “Took” is hauntingly beautiful and with “It fell apart” Savoy Grand show how songs can be built up to crush one’s soul with just some slightly distorted guitars.
Charles Mingus – The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady
A friend of mine introduced me to this great record. I liked its simple artwork and the poetic undertone in its title. Though I already knew Mingus before then, I never really got profoundly into his music. This changed when I fell in love with this album. The compositions are mind-blowing, with an intoxicating pulse that gets torn apart by the weirdest time signatures and conversations of these skilled instrumentalists. The tunes on this record make their way in every direction imaginable. They speed up, slow down and collapse as they fucking please – with an instrumentation and logic one can’t seem to understand. It’s full of chaos and anger, compassion, despair and a romantic feel of sadness. And – since it somehow has something to do with ballet – danceable in a way.
Opeth – Damnation
I’ve listened to Opeth excessively through my teenage years, and it all started with this album. Just the fact that a death metal band plays such a kind of beautiful music, is truly fascinating to me. Those Pink Floyd-ish sounds with melancholy moods and especially the clean and well played drums make this album one of my all time favorites.
Black Sabbath – Vol.4
Everything I play, listen and love about music and Rock‘n‘Roll has its origin in the album Vol.4 by Black Sabbath. My dad showed me this record when I was a child and I was stunned by the the muddy guitars and the heavy drums and of course Ozzy Osbourne‘s voice. The first track, “Wheels Of Confusion” blew my mind, but I also fell in love with the instrumental “Laguna Sunrise”. I loved to look at the pictures in the record‘s inlay: the musicians are soaked with sweat and it seems that they are one with the music. In the central picture, Ozzy‘s standing in his victory-pose in front of an electrified crowd. How cool is that! I looked at those pictures for countless times and it‘s this record which is my most important marker. I still listen to Vol.4 since the song “Under The Sun/Everyday Comes And Goes” is really a Doom-machine and “Changes” is one of the most beautiful songs I know.
Logh – A Sunset Panorama
Logh changed everything. The way I choose chords, the way I pick the strings, the way I arrange songs. There is so much space in their music on one hand, and on the other so many details to discover. I was already familiar with Logh‘s previous album The Raging Sun but it was 2005‘s A Sunset Panorama that evolved my musical thinking and feelings. Every note has its place and every drum hit its space. The vocals are soft and fragile but reflective, sensitive and of course aware of all the mysteries that are going to happen in this and in other worlds. The production is perfect: you stand in the middle of the band and hear everything. The album was recorded in one single day by Swedish sound engineer Pelle Gunnerfeldt and the entire recording session was filmed and mixed in 5.1. A Sunset Panorama is in any case a personal musical sunrise.
Tomahawk – Mit Gas
I admire the works of Mike Patton. When I got into his sound, a new musical universe opened up for me – which definitely inspired me a lot. I entered this realm by exploring Fantômas, Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle and all his other projects, each band unique and poignant. Mit Gas still is one of my favorite records. I never get bored of it, i don’t know why – the pure energy in the simple straight forward riffs, the varying voice playing around with effects, emotions and melancholy: a powerful combination of different musical influences.