TIEFSCHWARZ – Eat books  

Much like Underground Resistance in 1994, Daft Punk in 1997 and Felix Da Housecat in 2001, Tiefschwarz are about to leave an imperiously sized impression upon 2005. Germany’s electronic funk soul brothers, Ali and Basti Schwarz, are as cool, hip and any other adjective declaring them to be implausibly great as it gets right now. In the words of the tragic Nathan Barley, they are ‘totally Mexico’. And if you thought dance music was only populated by po-faced, studio bores, Ali and Basti’s infectious enthusiasm will soon have you thinking otherwise. Faceless they are not. Indeed, over the last few years – a period in which dance music has allegedly been swirling down the shitter remember – Tiefschwarz have kept house music’s freak flag flying. Their remixes are the stuff of legend: Kelis, The Rapture, DJ Hell and, perhaps most notably, Spektrum (their awesome rewiring of Kinda New) have all benefitted from their magical sparkle dust. Their own productions have been no less inspiring: the symphonic 4/4 house squiggle of On Up afforded them the status of ones-to-watch back in 2001 and the equally evocative and impressively titled Acid Soul was just that. Meanwhile, their 2002 debut album, Ral 9005 debunked the myth that house albums don’t bear up to repeated listening. The third weapon in their arsenal has been their ecstatic DJ sets. Having preached their driving sermon across the globe, their ability to move dancefloors of any hue (for proof, see last year’s mesmeric Misch Masch mix) has fed straight back into their burgeoning sound. And now this explosive triptych of talents has crystallised fully to form Tiefschwarz’s most alluring statement to date: their new longplayer, Eat Books. Although nominally an electronic German album, the secret to ‘Eat Books’ clarion call is in its open-ended conversations with styles and tribes the world over. That means adding a dash of New York’s DFA edgy inner dynamic; adapting Detroit’s ongoing love affair with emotive and soulful techno; invoking the casual cool of the UK’s more nefarious nightspots and noting the sexual elan of France’s switched on disco kids. This, combined with Germany’s natural mechanical electronic groove gives Eat Books its unique selling point. “It’s important to never close your ears,” Ali & Basti state. “We travel throughout the world and hear so many shades of music. To us, right now, a big variety is natural. It’s instinctive. We like DFA just as much as Ricardo Villalobos.” Such a mindset will always foster innovation and it’s this desire to constantly surprise themselves, as well as their audience, that formed the backbone of Ali and Basti’s recording sessions with their studio partner Jochen Schmalbach, in Berlin. “There was no proper plan to the album,” the brothers explain, “and it took a while to find our groove. We just knew it had to be a journey into sound, sound is what we’ve always been interested in. But because of the different directions that we took, we’d say it’s got pop crossover potential.” Don’t fret: by that they don’t mean Girls Aloud should be looking over their perma-tanned shoulders any time soon – well not for that reason anyway. Rather, its influences are plentiful. “It’s modern day dance music,” they boast. “The styles, the tastes, the rock influences, the moody, darker pop stuff.” He’s not wrong. Warning Siren, featuring the propulsive, yelping vocal of Matty Safer from The Rapture, is so now it hurts: but in its unique Talking Heads-get-twitchy-down-the-disco-with-LFO manner, it’s also timeless, Safer’s vocal refrain of “I’m gonna set it off” lighting the blue touch paper perfectly. The urging bright lights of Wait & See (featuring Chikinki’s Rupert) offers the ridiculous notion of the Happy Mondays going Hi-NRG, but somehow it sticks. Even these collaborations came about through accident rather than design. Ali and Basti knew Matty because of the remix they did for The Rapture’s Sister Saviour. They asked him if he knew of anyone who could sing on Warning Siren and he literally bit their hands off. “We partied in Berlin the night before we recorded his vocal,” they explain. “I think he was feeling it the next day.” Chikinki’s Rupert sang on Wait & See, and the New Order-ish android rock of Artificial Chemicals, because the brothers had worked on a remix and production project with the band before. Naturally, there’s also a majestic supply of, clichE alert, Saturday night club bangers. Fly skips along insistently in a cosmic funky strut, it’s wonky synths a particular highlight, and the unmistakeable groove of Issst (also the name of their superior acid house shindigs at London’s The Key earlier this year) is monumental. And as for the death of dance music, there’s enough evidence in Eat Books to demand a retrial. “I think it’s back to normal now,” Ali remarks vis-‡-vis dance music’s turbulent few years. “We’ve left the Superstar DJ era behind. It’s more like one big happy family again. There’s more taste around, more sexiness. I’ve definitely noticed more girls on the dancefloor. And there’s all these weird combinations; rock and house, techno and reggae. It’s great, the honesty has come back.” And the album’s strangely surreal title? Don’t worry, Tiefschwarz haven’t gone totally absent without leave to la-la land. In Germany if you love a book, you don’t just read it, you eat it. You devour it with every part of your being. It’s a sentiment that can equally apply to all that Ali and Basti touch. You don’t just dance to Tiefschwarz, you eat them. And they taste fantastic. Be assured, you’ll be back for seconds…


review by: Danchi

p+c 2005.
Label: Fine

Four Music Website
2005. Elektronski Zvuk