Sankt Otten: Morgen Wieder Lustig
Hidden Shoal

The word ‘cinematic' gets thrown around a lot, but it definitely applies to the wide-screen music-making of German instrumental duo Sankt Otten. Pooling their considerable talents for their fourth full-length under the group name, Stephan Otten (programming, sampling, keyboards) and Oliver Klemm (guitar, keyboards) offer a bold and inspired fusion of krautrock and post-rock in eleven atmospheric tracks. The duo catalyze ultra-thick slabs of synthetic tones, occasional drum pulses, and razor-sharp guitar lines of Fripp-like precision into brooding set-pieces of galaxial character.

The wide-ranging album features everything from beatless reveries (e.g., the blinding supernova “Das bezahlte Lob”) to motorik workouts, with the duo demonstrating a deft command of their material throughout the recording's forty-nine minutes. Following a heavenly overture of synthetic string-drenched scene-painting and simmering guitar strokes (“Ein Himmel voller Galgen”), “Mutter, Jazz und der Heilige Geist” digs into a slow-motion krautrock vibe, with martial snares calling forth the troops while a gurgling bass line pulsates, electric guitars blaze, and vibraphones chime. Powered by a plodding drum pulse, “Lustig, lustig, demain encore lustig” soars through the upper skies piloted by Klemm's six-strings, before the noir-jazz tendrils of “Fromme Lügen” coil themselves around the listener like a spider trapping prey within a silken cocoon. The dominant role played by synthesizers makes the warm glow of electric piano playing seem almost startling when it appears during the mournful dirge “Unser Mann für das Happy End,” while “X für U” exudes a poppy uplift in its marriage of chiming synth melodies and a strolling pulse. While as sonically rich as the other tracks, “Wenn die Rechnung nicht aufgeht” exudes a lullaby-like air that renders it the album's sweetest setting (presumably not a coincidence, snoring sounds even appear at track's end).

A solid follow-up to the group's Hidden Shoal debut Wir koennen ja Freunde bleiben (Let's Remain Friends), Morgen Wieder Lustig (Morning Again Amusingly?) bridges decades in its sleek blend of Klaus Schulze-styled synth textures and prog-epic guitar lines. Perhaps the thing that stands out most is how assured the recording is, and the clarity of vision the duo brings to the album's material.

November 2009