Review: Klaus Johann Grobe – Spagat Der Liebe

It’s here. It’s finally here. When our miserable climate forced snow and sleet upon us in early May, it felt like Britain’s spring would never arrive, let alone its summer. But now the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the flora is in bloom, and overweight men are walking around in their vests.

This beautiful time of the year deserves an appropriate soundtrack. For that, you could do a lot worse than Spagat Der Liebe, the second album by the electro-pop duo Klaus Johann Grobe which, frankly, couldn’t be any more summery if it featured a guest appearance by the giggling sun-baby from Teletubbies. They’re based in Switzerland, sing in German and play krautrock. Sort of. In fact, last year they told Pitchfork, “we’ve never been that much into krautrock to be honest. …we’ve probably been influenced by a dozen of other things before it comes to krautrock.” That’s probably why Spagat Der Liebe sounds rather different from other kosmische-smitten pseudo-kraut outfits, even if their hypnotically locked grooves and metronomic beats do initially invite comparisons to Klaus Dinger, Can and Faust.

The record’s cheerful opening track is jam-packed with crisp, funky bass lines, dreamy pools of synth and electro birdsong-like bleepery and things don’t get much less blissful thereafter. Another highlight is ‘Rosen Des Abschieds’ which splices lounge music, 70s disco, the cuter end of 60s psych-pop and 2000s-era DFA Records electro-rock shapes to such impressive effect that you wonder why more bands don’t dabble in this manner of idyllic genre fusion.

There are other numbers that resemble a parallel-universe incarnation of Stereolab, who are fronted by a male, who’s decided to sing in German instead of using the silky French tongue. The German language is often stereotyped as unattractively harsh-sounding, yet Klaus Johann Grobe render it soulful, sophisticated, seductive and sweet, even more so than Kraftwerk managed to achieve on their floatier exotic ditties.

There are weaker points in the form of the filler piece ‘Heut Abend Nur’. Presumably intended to provide a touch of mid-point, downtime variation, this song has been stripped of both bass and drums, a technique that merely makes the composition come across as an undeveloped demo track, a situation that is only exacerbated when its lyrics descend into “ba ba ba / la la la” superfluity. At the other extreme, one wonders if the suave organ strut that is ‘Ohne Mich’ has finished up a little too kitschy to stomach. Mind you, I’ve felt the same sugar-sickened nausea when hearing certain Ducktails or Moon Duo tracks for the first time, but still ended up loving them at a later date, once my palate adapted to their treacly taste.

Besides, these two minor slips are compensated by their surrounding scrummy slices of soul-infused, new wave, disco-dance music, not least ‘Liebe Am Strand’ which even comes flaunting a bonus long and brazen flute solo.

By the time you’re reading this, the sky may well have clouded over again with drizzle, acid rain or nuclear fallout. If by any chance that hasn’t happened and you’re looking for a suitable soundtrack for your barbeque, pool party, alpine summer ski trip or Deutschland-themed über-shindig, this smooth and sexy kraut-dance record is, you might say, “sehr empfehlenswert“.

Purchase the physical 12″ via Trouble In Mind Recordings.

Written by JR Moores