Category: Electro / Industrial / Experimental
Album: Das Monument
Blurb: Itä-Saksa returns to the scene with the group’s first release in 16 years, the moody, fun, and atmospheric Das Monument.
The Finnish group Itä-Saksa (which translates to East Germany) got its start in 1989 right before the Berlin Wall came down. The avant-garde electro/industrial group released three albums between 1995 and 2000, but was quiet for the better part of the last decade. Itä-Saksa returns to the scene with the group’s first release in 16 years with the dark, moody, and dramatic album Das Monument.
The first track, “Shining Son” sets the tone with a spooky, ambient soundscape, echoing guitars, a slow pulsing beat, and eerie female operatic vocals. The hypnotic tempo leads nicely into the next two tracks, which continue with female backing vocals and interesting harmonies, but explode into faster, danceable beats with fervid, fuzzed out synths at a fever pitch. The frenzy slows down with the Tom Waits-esque “Ten Years of Solitude,” which feels like a beatnik poetry reading gone mad on LSD, complete with tom drums and woodwinds backing a mostly spoken word vocal track. “Saturday Night Fever” stands out as a favorite with its quirky synth melodies and riffs and “Johnny’s Knockout” as a balls-to-the-wall techno all out dance jam. The album is tied together with recurring samples, themes, and a few lyrical reprises, which create nice cohesion. While the vocalist showcases many excellent styles of singing and spoken word, he’s definitely got a flair for the dramatic. The line, “Someone’s having a barbecue” is mentioned in two of the songs and is repeated on the final track with such over-the-top operatic gothic fervor that it made this reviewer chuckle.
Overall, Das Monument possesses a variety of interesting melodies, cohesive themes, danceable and moody tracks, experimental sounds, and a little bit of dramatic flair for good measure.