Pluramon: The Monstrous Surplus
Karaoke Kalk

While one admires the work Marcus Schmickler creates in other contexts, the one that undoubtedly offers the most immediate and pleasurable listening rewards is the luscious dream-pop music he produces as Pluramon. The last album, Dreams Top Rock, elevated the project to an entirely new level in its embrace of shoegaze and the addition of Julee Cruise's heavenly voice, and the fourth, The Monstrous Surplus, now perpetuates that move and maybe even improves upon it slightly by bringing more concision and a stronger focus to the proceedings.

That's nowhere more apparent than in the gorgeous opener “Turn In” and “Snow Blow” where Cruise's entrancing vocal floats through gauzy choirs of guitars, and in “Border” where Schmickler's deep voice is joined by the soft, rather Cruise-like whisper of German actress Julia Hummer—until, that is, both are buried under a celestial mass of melodic dreaminess. Schmickler himself sings lead on “Fishing” but, frankly, his voice is buried so deeply within the mix, it could be any number of male singers. Par for the shoegaze course, the production style throughout The Monstrous Surplus is epic with every moment elevated into wide-screen, reverberant bliss.

The new material generally opts for atmospheric melancholy and, aside from the raucous “Fresh Aufhebung” and the closing “So?” (both feature spoken-word contributions from NY-based German artist and writer Jutta Koether), eschews the dissonance and angularity that occasionally peeked through the cracks of past Pluramon albums. Don't be fooled by the bee-hive swarms of electric guitar that drench “If Time Was On My Side,” “Snow Blow,” and “If The Kids Are United”: peel back their outer shells and classic pop ballads reveal themselves. Let's hope that, next time, Schmickler makes even greater use of Cruise's voice rather than including it on four songs only.

November 2007