Review Summary: We are most definitely in for exciting times with German music.
During the past few years, Germany has been witnessing a massive wave of independent music written in English language, both electronic and analogue in nature. Exciting new groups like Roosevelt
, Coma, Oracles
, Xul Zolar, Drangsal, Sizarr
and countless others have been surfacing in music blogs and on live stages throughout Europe, presenting timbres previously uncharted within the German music scene. One of the epicenters of this new kind of music is Cologne, home to several renowned music labels and slowly emerging as the second center of independent culture alongside Berlin.
It is in this environment that Cologne-based outfit Woman are releasing their debut EP, titled Fever
after the final track on the EP. Being only the second release on Asmara Records (the first being the Tides EP
from fellow electronic indie band Xul Zolar), which itself is an imprint of small Berlin/Cologne-based Jakarta Records, Woman are presenting a fresh, yet refined style that echoes both radio-friendly R&B and the electronic sounds of their local surroundings. On “Psychedelic Lover”, their first single, singers Carlos Hufschlag and Manuel Tran showcase an expressive delivery evoking Justin Timberlake
as they make use of several octaves. Meanwhile, Tran's guitar work that chimes in between the lines makes prominently use of blues-rock styled guitar licks.
Both sides, however, maintain a laid-back attitude emblematic of the spirit of this release – Woman try to impress not by showmanship, but through meticulously crafted arrangements and a right sense for placing the right sound, the right build-up at the right moment. Songs like “Touch” and the excellent title track succeed because Woman manage to fill them with a myriad of micro-hooks, little rhythmic, yet melodic percussion loops, synthesizer pads whose sounds evolve over the course of seconds. Simultaneously, all songs appear in an organic, minimalistic, almost hyper-dry livery, making the extensive amount of tiny embellishments appear both subdued and highlighted in a paradoxical way.
Even from a lyrical perspective, Woman manage to find a tone that emphasizes their vocal qualities without drawing too much attention to the familiar themes in their work – love, affection, longing. Phrases like “Cause I won't let you go” (“Don't Go”), “You let the demons inside” (“Tension”) or “Help me not to lose myself” (“Fever”) are employed without being placed at the forefront of attention, effectively fitting in seamlessly with the slick, groovy, soulful vibe that permeates the entire release.
Looking back at the variety of sounds presented within the confines of this only 20-minute-long EP, Woman still seem to have a lot of potential to surprise with a future full-length record. Be it in the form of a more upfront funk-pop release that, given the recent surge in interest in 80s-styled pop music, would very likely place itself among the hottest tracks on mainstream radio, or a more introspective sound that revisits the different timbres present in the electronic elements of this project, we are most definitely in for exciting times with German music.