Asja auf Capri: Novi Ronde (Difficult Fun, 2004)
Ok folks, this is some serious German minimalist techno music. Asja auf Capri is comprised of Anja Kirschner and David Panos. They bring to the table a minimalist sort of sparse techno/industrial music with pointed lyrics. Of course, if you don’t speak any German, you may need to go to their site to look up the translation, but I chose not to do that. I think the language offers something in the music that English can’t communicate. I love that this band didn’t translate their music and sing/speak it in English. It’s certainly a breath of fresh air. Besides the duo, there are a number of additional players on drums, vox, bass, and guitars. This collaborative work of sorts is certainly not for the faint of heart, but, given a few spins and some time, the disc really is a coherent piece of work.
“Chanson Risk” starts of the disc with blips and clicks with sparse, distorted drums and high hats galore. The combination of hard, techno sounds seems cold, especially alongside the hard sounds of the German syllables. Besides the German itself, the band really plays with stereo. Headphones are a must with this band. “Contra Temps” begins with percussion and some keyboard work. This sounds like all the electronics is analog, but I could be wrong. The vocals are softened and the music is more intricate and less hard than the first track. Again, stereo and different blips and sounds really accent the tracks, giving it depth.
“Im Neuland” has a plodding feel to it and the sounds remind me of a minimalist, early Depeche Mode. Unlike previous tracks, Kirschner does some singing instead of speaking on this track. I actually like her voice. I wish she would sing more, but her spoken word pieces really accent the metrical feel of the songs. “La Ronde Popular” starts off with what sounds like someone walking down the street. It turns into what sounds like a dance club hit from the 80’s laced with great German lyrics. “7” has a melody like an old movie song or show tune. It has blips and spacey songs mixed within the lyrics. Frankly, this makes for a great effect. It is quiet and patient.
“ABC’s Elan” picks up the pace. This has a more danceable feel to it with fast paced drums and interesting sounds mixed in here and there. The album is certainly well paced. The faster songs intermingle with slower, sparse songs to allow the reader breathers from the electronic assault. “Licht” has more recessed vocals and muffled percussion. This song is a lot more unstructured and is interesting in that sense. “Hoffmann” has a danceable feel as well. I really like the spoken vocals on this track. They are matter of fact and really lend some humanity to the colder beats and clicks.
“Declination” has a catchy beat that reminds me of Freeze Pop. This song is definitely very minimalistic in its form. There are sounds like banging on pipes and different blips and keys thrown into the mix during a sort of bridge. “Prairie” follows with soft beats with what seems to be an almost chaotic feel at first. There are slight, bright blips with slight murmurs in the background. “Brandsifter” starts off with a dance beat and ends the disc on an up-beat note. Anja contributes staccato style speech vox over driving drums and bass with analog synth sounds. This is a song that will wake you up and really ends the disc on a high note.
All in all, I would say that this disc really grows on you. It’s a bit hard to listen to at first, but, once you are in the midst of their minimalist electro efforts, you get the feeling that there is more hear than meets the first listen. Give Asja auf Capri a try, and, perhaps, you will be able to improve you German in the process.