Paul Kalkbrenner - Guten Tag
Wed 2nd Jan, 2013 Music Reviewsin
The Paul Kalkbrenner star has shone brighter in recent years than ever before. The phenomenal success of Berlin Calling – the platinum selling soundtrack that the movie of the same name was crafted around – took the German from the clubs to massive stadium and festival gigs. The epic Sky and Sand from that album spent more than two years in the German single charts, a feat not achieved in almost thirty years.
This meteoric rise, some fifteen years into his career, had almost created a ‘Kalkbrenner’ brand, and on the back of his fifth and most successful studio album Icke Wieder elevated the producer to international superstar. His live show has grown to be something quite big, and his sixth album Guten Tag, was produced to enhance it even further.
Kicking off with Schnurbi, you can almost picture the opening lights on stage, waiting for the man himself to appear, before we lead into Der Stabsvornern, whose driving bassline – kept company by a titillating hi-hat – is vintage Kalkbrenner. You can almost see the crowd beginning to heave. The high-pitched synths of Kernspalte interrupt the flow for a moment, before Spitz-Auge is the absolute fist punching Kalkbrenner many have grown to love.
The album is dotted with random samples, and one can’t help but ponder back to Berlin Calling: in the movie, the Ickarus character, played by Kalkbrenner, takes the sound of a closing Berlin train door, deconstructs and loops it, then transforms it to be front and centre of an inspired tune (even if his doctor doesn’t quite think so). While there are no train doors present here, there are similar quaint and often unrecognisable samples throughout the entire album, making for a unique experience, but one that is still typically Kalkbrenner.
The melody infused Das Gezabel progresses slowly, and at just over six minutes, is the longest track of the album. You wait for it to all thud into a moment of an oft-typical Kalkbrenner drop, and while it doesn’t quite happen the way you expect, it is an a slow burning beauty, as is Hinrich Zur See, complete with its sprinklings of acid. Der Buhold is the quintessential festival favourite: intricately pieced together, prog-heavy and loaded with a big bassline below a catchy melody, it is the one most likely to make many punters squeal in a banshee of excitement, this one included.
Not that there’s a shortage of catchy stuff here. Speiserberndchen even with what almost sounds like a mis-beat, Trummerung probably the pick of the album for me and replete with a thumping kick drum and hi-hat, and, the powerful Der Ast-Spink, all offer some bass-heavy progressive sounding tunes to delight in. Scattered amongst them though, are the softer, even ambient, shorter tunes like Fochleise-Kassette and Datenzwerg, which, running at some thirty seconds each, act as a clever foil to the headiness of the bigger barnstorming tunes. In this respect, the Berlin-based producer has played it out rather well, and it is little wonder that his live show will be one savoured by many across the world. What the album makes up for in solid tunes however, it perhaps lacks in some forward thinking, with it at times, all sounding a bit too typical of the Kalkbrenner sound. Nevertheless, closing with the buoyant sounding Das Gezabel De Luxe, it is a tune that will close many a sold-out live performance, leaving punters smiling, breathless, and undoubtedly cheering for more.
Across no less than 17 tracks and running just under an hour, Kalkbrenner has produced an album that while is typical of his sound, is also fresh in its appeal. It is a strong release, and even though it may not be your first pick to listen to at home, transfer these tunes into his live show and it will be something else. It will definitely keep the Kalkbrenner fans more than happy, and may even win a few more along the way.