…made visible

Señor Coconut was a silly novelty project from around the millennium-shift, which saw Kraftwerk classics among other songs remodelled into “latin” versions.

The man behind that undying contribution to western music was german Uwe Schmidt, now residing in Chile. No-one could be blamed for doubting that he would release anything very significant after that. However, this winter he made a rather impressive return under the alias Atom™ with an album called “Liedgut”.

Here Uwe Schmidt creates a sublime piece of music in a tradition of German-romantic mysticism fused with technology. Sublime is indeed the correct word, seeing references to Schubert, Nietzche, Goethe…  German-romantic mysticism fused with technology?  This citation from the Raster-noton page should explain that concept:

“Atom™ absorbed a universe striving for clarity and simplicity, where science and irrationality, ornament and mathematic purity were the key elements of a (still) oscillating social and mental order. “Liedgut” therefore oscillates between those poles: scientific exercises on Schubert chord progressions, digital waltzes and romantic lyrics.”

Think of that what you will, but there is plenty going on in the album that is divided into 20 short musical movements. Schmidt creates surprisingly organic textures out of complex digital treatment, and does some weird things with the interference sound created by a cellphone near a speaker. An obvious point of musical reference is of course the romantical leanings of Kraftwerk, but  Schmidt manages to make a rather original, contemporary vision of this future from the past.

If all this seems patently pompous and pretentious, it is good to think of what one commentator (sadly I can’t remember who or where) noted about Kraftwerk: The audience outside Germany didn’t always see the smirks on their faces, when they were singing that they were robots.

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