Tiefschwarz, meaning ‘deep black’ in English, comes partly from Ali and Basti Schwarz’s surname while the ‘tief’ aspect is a reference to the brothers’ shared love of deep house. It is this facet of dance music that has helped build the foundation of respect, not to mention huge reputation, they enjoy and hope to build on with Eat Books, their second album.
Apparently in Germany if you are particularly passionate about a book you consume it, devour it, eat it and this is what the duo hope you do with this CD, hence the title. It may be odd but is certainly a lot better than the working title of The Beer’s In The Fridge. So what exactly do these twelve tracks taste like? Do they make you hungry for more or leave you feeling empty?
The first thing that strikes you is the amount of tracks with guest vocals. Matty Safer from The Rapture appears on opener Warning Siren, Chikinki contribute to both Wait & See and Artificial Chemicals while Everything But The Girl‘s Tracy Thorn adds her trademark vocals to Damage. It is a strong line-up but, a bit like Ranieri’s old Chelsea team, Tiefschwarz have got the stars but not the team.
Safer finds himself singing meaningless lyrics over a plodding backing track, the usually exuberant Chikinki find their fiery electro-rock dowsed while even Tracey Thorn‘s distinctive voice is left floundering on the rocks by some passionless production. In fact the majority of the vocal tracks are empty, sterile and lacking in direction: a far cry from the strong electronic house that the German duo have built their name on.
The brothers Schwarz are at their best when focussing their attentions purely on the dancefloor. Fly is a straightforward house number with squelching beats and is almost deserving of the electronic handclaps it applauds itself with but recent single Issst is the real standout. A darkly hypnotic bassline propels the track while fuzzy bleeps and metallic clanks help add to the tension as the track hits various peaks and troughs along the way. It is a simple, uncomplicated idea with no needless elaboration or gimmickry and is all the better for it.
But the vocal tracks make up most of the album and serve as an attempt to push this in to ‘serious’ album territory as so many dance acts attempt, and fail to, while the dance tracks, well thought out as they are, may push many of the right buttons but fail to push the envelope. It is good to diversify of course but when it feels like a convoluted attempt to try and cover more bases and ensure a greater fanbase, it is an empty premise.
Listening to Eat Books makes you wish more dance acts would take Mylo‘s refreshing approach and not be shy to produce an album that unashamedly charges headlong into dance territory, and stays there. There is nothing particularly wrong with another mix and match semi-dance album from a credible dance act, but there is nothing particularly right or needful about it either. Perhaps it is an acquired taste, but I am afraid most of what I have swallowed of Eat Books has left me with musical indigestion. Disappointing.