Cologne loves pop. Their greatest dance tracks strive for the spit and polish of commercial R n' B, with lush synth tones bouncing around simple chord arrangements. The scene's brightest stars are in thrall to the contrived sentiment of eighties' new romantics. Even the word fascinates: August sees the annual C/O Pop Festival hit the city, a jovial techno jamboree featuring Germany's finest; Kompakt tried to create a new genre even by grafting 'pop' onto 'ambient'; then there was the short-lived side project Kompakt Pop; Wolfgang Voigt named his final GAS album 'Pop'; Jorg Burger and Antonelli Electr. joined forces for duo project 'Pop Up'; and now Jens Uwe Beyer has just paid homage to pop gods The Beatles with his debut LP as Popnoname for Italic. Mercifully, his tribute ends there.
Alluding with Popnoname to the anonymity of both contemporary pop and techno production (and in Cologne these terms seem interchangeable), Beyer's sound is as bright and buoyant as any of his comrades, evidenced by a string of strong releases for local labels Firm and Italic. He's trimmed the beats previously to appear on ‘Pop Ambient’, but ‘The White Album’ sticks to dance rhythms, be they skipping merrily at cocktail-hour tempo or surging forth doused in neon honey. Beyer can sing too, and his sweet tones - a hybrid of maudlin New Wave with a vague European lilt – are laid confidently over most of the album. His music sounds like a puffed-up version of MIA or Border Community.
Pairing pastel-hued chords with arpeggios shaded in crayon, 'No Doubt' transforms lazy vocal house into a shuddering disco bomb, with all the gushing awe of The Field staggered and chopped by Peter Grummich. 'Tremelo' sounds like The Modernist's 'Pearly Spencer' blended with Moroder twinklings, while 'Still' has Beyer vocodered, trapped among more spidery rhythms. 'Light' is a deliciously punchy electro heavy-hitter, unwittingly close to LCD Soundsystem's 'Tribulations' but without the grouchy posturing, while centrepiece 'Ferry Sponge' offers eight glorious minutes of sleek and slinky forward motion. There's some padding in the latter half: 'Jasminstrauch' is plodding and vacuous, and vocal showpiece 'Mother Earth' more cheesy than tasteful, but for the most part ‘The White Album’ is a dazzling display of throbbing techno-pop as only Cologne knows how.
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Tracklist: Popnoname - The White Album1 No Doubt
5 Ferry Sponge
6 Human One
9 Mother Earth