Static: Flavour Has No Name
City Centre Offices

Hanno Leichtmann (aka Static) made an auspicious debut with the melodic electronica of 2002's Eject Your Mind. Three vocal tracks (featuring Tarwater's Ronald Lippock and Justine Electra) were interspersed amongst the accomplished instrumental tracks, rendering it more memorable. Fans of that release will enjoy Flavour Has No Name even more, as Leichtmann has again solicited vocal support from Lippock and Electra as well as Christof Kurzmann (head of Austria 's Imprint) and Lali Puna's Valerie Trebeljhar. (Stefan Schneider also contributes but less noticeably, given that his instrumental contributions are indistinguishable from Leichtmann's on “Dependent, Depending.”)

The strong instrumental tracks often exude a punchy, noisy quality. “Three Nicotine Cigarettes,” for example, is a robust workout propelled by distorted synths, fuzz bass, and aggressive drum patterns. The title track “Flavour Has No Name” finds Leichtmann exploring rougher Amon Tobin territory by deploying a beat that would fit comfortably on Supermodified or Out From Out Where. Conversely, the soulful “Generique” and “Waking Up,” with its elegant piano flourishes, argue convincingly for Leichtmann's more restrained side. It's the vocal tracks, however, which truly distinguish Flavour Has No Name. Kurzmann's plaintive vocal on “Disquiet” allows its melodic hooks, dense percussive patterns, and orchestral touches to come to the forefront. On the melancholy “Ghost Boy,” a tapestry of simulated dial tones provides a backing for Lippock's laconic drawl, and, on the head-nodder “Get Me Something Cold,” his distinctive vocals are joined by some old-style synths. But two vocal tracks in particular stand out. The opener “‘Inside Your Heaven” features Justine Electra's sultry vocal wrapping itself around the soulful descending melody and Rhodes piano and percussion treatments. And conjoining Valerie Trebeljhar's seductive vocals with cascading harp accents on the gentle “Turn On Switch Off” makes for a sublime combination.

In short, Flavour Has No Name is robust electronic pop of the first rank. One drawback (for Leichtmann, perhaps, but not for the listener) is that Lippock's and Trebeljhar's vocal styles are so distinctive that their presence almost fully displaces their tracks into Tarwater and Lali Puna territories. But that's a minor complaint when the overall result is full of delightful contrasts and superb songwriting.

August 2003