Sankt Otten – Morgen Wieder Lustig

Sankt Otten - Morgen Wieder Lustig

Sankt Otten - Morgen Wieder Lustig

There are reports circulating that compare the German electronic duo Sankt Otten to England’s trip-hop heroes Portishead. A real head-scratcher to me. The comparison apparently comes from the somewhat dark, mysterious and atmospheric mood music on Sankt Otten’s first album, 2001’s Eine Kleine Traurigkeit. But that’s where the similarities end. Since then, Stephan Otten (drums, sampling, programming) and Oliver Klemm (guitars and keys) have eschewed the claustrophobic confines of their earlier recordings in favor of lush and tranquil ambient soundscapes with a richer, more luxurious sound.

Wir Koennen ja Freunde Bleiben and 2007’s Wunder Gibt Es Immer Wieder are filled with shimmering swirls of gently rolling drums, periodic waves of placid keyboards and rich, sustained guitar tones that are well suited as the cinematic soundtracks to our nocturnal meditations. If there is such a thing as engaging and lively ambient music, Sankt Otten defined it on these two releases.

Morgen Wieder Lustig sees the band sidestepping this evolutionary trend a bit but you won’t notice it until the 3rd track. While the first two tracks sound like extensions of the ethereal sonic textures on the previous two records, the rest of the album shifts gears slightly as the duo take away some of the warmth and add a touch of shadowy chill, effectively creating moods that can be both salient and disquieting without making the music any less compelling.

It’s easy for us critic types to slap the ambient electronic label on Sankt Otten’s music but that doesn’t do it justice. It’s not just spacey drones and undulating waves of delicate harmonies. The songs here are well-developed compositions cultivated from kraut-rock electronic experimentalists Cluster, Kraftwerk and Klaus Schulze. They don’t veer too far into the nebulous stratosphere, but instead stay grounded with rich melodies and evolve into hauntingly beautiful atmospheric pieces. Harmonically rich and layered guitar tones, reminiscent of Robert Fripp’s “Frippertronics”, glide over slithery rhythm patterns as experimental sound effects, shaped and formed through electronic processes, lurk in the background.

Morgen Wieder Lustig may not be as breathtakingly gorgeous as Wir Koennen ja Freunde Bleiben or Wunder Gibt Es Immer Wieder but it is equally imaginative and gratifying and is a welcome diversion from the stresses of our mundane lives.

RIYL: Cluster, Manual, Stars Of The Lid and Labradford

Sankt Otten: http://www.myspace.com/sanktotten

Hidden Shoal Recordings: http://music.hiddenshoal.com/