Downbeat - Warner
September 26, 2008
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
After Germany's dancehall caballeros and music
monks Seeed decided after their third album "Next" to take
a break from recording and touring, one of their three vocalists Ear a.k.a. Appear
a.k.a. Boundzound was the first one to release a solo single and the album
"Boundzound" following his 2003 debut EP "Boundclub (EP)", now
it's the band's mastermind and most prominent frontman Pierre Baigorry a.k.a.
Enuff a.k.a. Peter Fox making his solo-debut with
his album "Stadtaffe" (originally announced as "Hunde, Tauben, Stadtaffen").
But that isn't exactly the way it was conceived, as Peter Fox wasn't planning a
solo album, but had developed the idea to record an album in the producer's seat
with another vocalist. In fact, it had already been decided who'd contribute the
vocals, Atlanta's former Goodie Mob member Cee-Lo Green, who appeared as guest
vocalist on Seeed's "Aufstehn!" and who
only had to finish 'a small project' that however turned out to be the chart
topping 'odd couple' Gnarls Barkley with his partner Dangermouse. And thus Peter
Fox finds himself delivering the vocals.|
Over a sound tapestry that does incorporate some of Seeed's dancehall bounce as well but in the end turns out to be much darker with lots of real strings over beats that seem a hybrid of Seeed's dancehall and Timbaland's beats, the together with Monk written lyrics are about life and life in Berlin, but with a completely different, much more pessimistic (even in "Alles Neu"'s optimism) and dark vibe than Seeed would ever sound. Seeed and Lychee Lassi's beatmaster and turntable wizard DJ Illvibe is the third man responsible for the brilliant music with many more Seeed members involved in laying the backings. Opening this album is the first single (that stormed the German mainstream charts) "Alles Neu" (of which the smashing instrumental is also included on this album as "Shostakovitchovitch (Instr.)") followed by "Schwarz Zu Blau", a tune in which Berlin (completely the opposite of Seeed's "Dickes B") is a place to be hated, followed by the much slower and less danceable but outstanding "Haus Am See", one of the best tunes on this all killer-album, of which the "Saint Tropez (Instr.)" clean version is included as well.
The heavy bass driven "Kopf Verloren" is a very convincingly delivered song about losing your head, followed by the impressive "Das Zweite Gesicht" about the beast inside over a much more classical (as in classical strings being more prominent than the rhythmic pulse the Filmorchester Babelsberg delivers throughout the album) backing and the strange (both musically and lyrically) but wonderful "Der Letzte Tag" with its shake baby shake chorus. "Ich Steine, Du Steine" is almost a love song as much as it is an almost love-gone-wrong song about not being able to live together and not being able to live without each other over a melodramatic dark orchester-soundscape. The inexplicable thing about this album, is that despite its completely different musical and lyrical approach, the sound of Seeed is never further than one step away. If you hear "Lok Auf 2 Beinen" you can hear which small changes you'd have to make to the sound to turn it into a Seeed tune, the same applies to the title tune "Stadtaffe" but just to emphasize the completely different vibe of this Peter Fox solo-album when compared to Seeed's songs the lyrics of this tune suffice Affen feiern auch wenn sie traurig sind i.e. monkeys also party when they're sad.
The next song "Fieber" (that was also included on the "Alles Neu" Maxi-CD has been available as a download on the internet for quite some time now, and is the strong collaboration with Berlin's rappers K.I.Z. a.k.a. Kannibalen In Zivil, followed by the almost Seeed-like dance(hall) tune "Schüttel Dein Speck" paying tribute to (a very fat) girl to dance with and the last vocal track of the album is the beautiful sweet combination "Zucker" with the excellent unfortunately seldom heard silky voiced Vanessa Mason before the two earlier mentioned brilliant instrumentals close this magnificent album. This may not be a reggae album, not be a dancehall album, not be a Seeed album, but I do recommend every reader of this review to listen to this album (and then buy it) as you will not be disappointed.