Sankt Otten: Wir koennen ja Freunde bleiben
Hidden Shoal

Throughout its twelve pieces, Wir koennen ja Freunde bleiben (Let's Remain Friends) exudes a ‘high plains drifter'-styled ambiance, with Oliver Klemm's twanging guitars stretching their tremolo sound across the panoramic desert of band leader Stephan Otten's simpatico drumming. In operation in various forms since 1999, Sankt Otten (bassist Volker Schumacher and keyboardist Fredy Engel in addition to Otten and Klemm) creates brooding, cinematic moodscapes from a core of guitars, bass, and drums augmented by atmospheric strings and keyboards; the group's soundtracks for imaginary films may drink from Labradford's evocative and desolate well but add considerably more heft along the way.

Sometimes violent (hear the Chinese cymbal crashes that punctuate the opener “Fremdenzimmer” and the slashing guitars that inflame the slithering trip-hop of “Happiness [Woanders als hier]” and “Seit Tagen kein Wunder”), sometimes peaceful, the album settles into a more relaxed vein in its closing third; during the string-drenched lullaby “Wir koennen ja Freunde bleiben,” Sankt Otten even calls to mind the Fripp-based material on Eno's Another Green World. Each song wends a different route—“Wenn die Musik verstummt” couples Mozart-styled classicism with a lumbering snarl while “Fadenscheinig” inhabits a noirish jazz ballad zone—so the interest level remains high throughout.

April 2007