Gudrun Gut: Members of the Ocean Club

Pining for the halcyon days of 1996 when Gudrun Gut (early Einsturzende member, Malaria! founder, and today Monika label head) and associates presented Oceanclub evenings in Berlin, Cologne, Graz, and London? For those who missed it, Members of the Ocean Club revisits the scene. The two-disc set includes the original recording plus a second disc of remixes (on CD for the first time); videos are included, too, one from Chilean filmmaker Claudia Eglesias and two by Britain's Angela Conway.

Not surprisingly, the first disc is a 'song' album of deliberate structure (e.g., the prelude and mirroring postlude) and stylistic contrasts, even if pulsating rhythms and burbling synth patterns surface throughout. The album's beats broil more than pound (the slamming techno of “Martini” the obvious exception) and vocals are commonly hushed (even Blixa Bargeld's on “Die Sonne”), making for a laid-back, dreamy vibe. Highlights include the warped country-techno “Yadiyadi” featuring Anita Lane's rodeo-styled vocal, the glistening tech-house “Cocoon,” and the lilting ballad “Pearl.” With its head-nodding beats deepened by Jovanka von Willsdorf's dramatic vocals, the trip-hop-flavoured “Diving” is worth the album purchase alone.

Naturally, the remix album is a more straightforward set of club tracks, with Paul van Dyk's slamming android “Yadiyadi” mix a representative example. The disc groups a given song's multiple versions together, thereby emphasizing their differences; compare, for example, Ian Pooley's Tresor-styled “Firething” version to The Orb's languid dub mix. Likewise, Klaus Schulze's propulsive “Die Sonne” is a stark contrast to Thomas Fehlmann's nine-minute, aquatic treatment. Freshest of all is Ellen Allien's funky “Butterfly” makeover which also graces her own remix album. Gut herself concedes that some of the material on Members of the Ocean Club sounds like it came from the early ‘90s, but she's also correct in noting that other tracks (those by Fehlmann and Allien, definitely) sound as fresh today as when they first appeared.

January 2005