13&God create strange music, plain and simple. Their debut self-titled CD mixes electronica, indie, hip-hop and pop to successfully create some of the weirdest music I would ever describe as beautiful. Yet when the group making the music contains members of German electro-poppers, The Notwist and Anticon experimental hip-hoppers, Themselves, this feat isn’t all that hard to imagine. Many times within the album, The Notwist influence almost completely takes over and things begin sounding like they belong on the Notwist masterpiece Neon Golden
. Perfect Speed
is one of these tracks. Driven by guitar arpeggios and looped keyboard riffs, the music in Perfect Speed is everything from danceable to relaxing. Under this mix of emotions comes a snare-heavy and high hat heavy drum beat. Overall, the feel of Perfect Speed is a little more Hip-Hopish than something on would find on Neon Golden; however, with Notwist singer, Markus Acher, delivering his pleasant, perfect-for-electronica voice, the song takes a much more Notwist-esque feel than many of the other tracks.
This doesn’t mean that Themselves don’t get in the music at all, quite the contrary. Album opener, Low Heaven
, barely resembles The Notwist, except for Acher’s small vocal parts. The rest of the vocal duties are taken over by Doseone, Themselves’ rapper. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Doseone’s quick, high-pitched flow, but his lyrics certainly surpass his strange voice in quality. One verse, spat very fast, goes like this “We remain such gluttons/for the generous threat of being/supreme being safed or susceptible.../subject to a man mold maker with a tendency/toward the more dramatic side of everything.../we are...
. The production on Low Heaven is also significantly not as Notwistic as many other songs. Driven mostly by piano, but also featuring some dreary horns and a very electronic drum loop, the beat is very trip hop sounding and fits well with Doseone’s rapping. While many other tracks follow this formula, the highly danceable Ghostwork
being one of them, The Notwist-esque tracks reign supreme on 13 & God’s self-titled debut, both in quality and in quantity.
In the end, it almost seems as though 13 & God is an album divided. Half (or so) of the tracks follow Themselves’ weird-hop formula, while the others show off The Notwist’s dream pop meets electronica stylings. While there are large differences between each artist, there are some parallels, and thus there are some tracks that actually sound almost like collaborations between the two, like the fantastically smooth Afterclap
. Even if the separateness of this collaboration is bothersome, you can’t argue with tracks like Tin Strong
, the former being the lengthiest song on the album and possibly the best Themselves track, the latter being a whole different kind of beast. If is hypnotizing, to say the least. Clean, affected guitars lead the trippy beat, with both vocalist singing “if there were not something so loud and clear/it would have been bought and sold”
. Three-fourths of the way through the song, everything stops except the drum beat. The drums are then joined by a funky bass line; this bass is almost immediately joined by Doseone, who ends the song with a great verse. Two tracks later, the album ends with, Walk
, a collection of vintage samples of people, places and things, towards the half-way mark everything but an eerie string line drops out. After building up, the string line is gone and the album has ended.