Unhappybirthday: From Tone Poem to Rhythm

13th October 2018

Title: Schaum

Label: Tapete

This is the first album by Unhappybirthday in three years. That album, Schauer, was influenced by the Georges Perec novel, Un Homme Qui Dort. Lots of melancholy was involved on that one. The idea for this album was to address carefree youth and its gradual maturity and seriousness.

That atmosphere certainly pervades this album which is beautifully produced, infused with a dark, spacious atmosphere, the German lyrics delivered in a reverb-laden, atmospheric, slightly otherworldly fashion but with a touch of the goth about it. Low registers abound on the vocal but they are partly sung and partly whispered, adding to the gravitas and the solemnity of the music on offer here. 

Unhappybirthday: From Tone Poem to Rhythm

Based in Hamburg, Unhappybirthday (Daniel, Tobi and Kim) offer unhurried and rather considered electro synth-pop songs. There’s a sense of deliberation in their musical approach so both the delivery and the sonics are applied and implemented with, it seems, careful thought. The production helps because it adds an audiophile edge to the music. The mastering is admirably balanced. While there was a compressive glow on the CD version I reviewed, there was no offensive or harmful frequencies to harm the entertainment. The instrumental separation in and around the music allowed the ear to follow each musician without too much trouble. 

Unhappybirthday: From Tone Poem to Rhythm

What I like about this album is that the band is happy to mix it up in terms of its musical approach. There are almost tone poem-type songs which offer a mood or a sonic texture approach but others drag in a melodic form that are supplemented by very attractive hooks that keep the mind connected and interested. In this way, the album has been well planned and laid out. 

Promoting a thoughtful, introverted, slightly mournful and subdued approach to its music, the band has produced an attractive piece of work that I’ll look forward to getting to know more intimately in the future. This is an album that will sink into the consciousness steadily over time. 

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