Switched On – Ströme: Nr. 2 (Compost)

Reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Ströme, the Munich-based duo of Mario Schönhofer and Tobias Weber, have put together a heavily loaded debut album for Michael Reinboth’s renowned Compost Records, closing in on 30 years of existence. Much of the album is instrumental, but for three songs they have been joined on several tracks by Franz Ferdinand founder member Nick McCarthy, who grew up in the region.

The instrumental work is loaded with analogue synths, most notably the Moog IIIp modular model that a certain Giorgio Moroder used on Donna Summer’s I Feel Love – and yes, it’s the exact same instrument!

What’s the music like?

Really enjoyable, and nicely worked between dance-driven workouts and chilled out horizontal tracks. Among the highlights are the nicely pointed Niki, with chunky bass and a nice, floaty treble line, and Panta Rhei, which has a string cosmic disco vibe that would certainly appeal to fans of Todd Terje. Trang & Flinky has similar vibes, utilising sharper analogue tones. Wasser is one of the most successful downtempo tracks, finding warmth and space.

The Nick McCarthy collaborations work really well. Das Modul is especially good, with a great vocal hook and lyrics that could easily come from the work of Philip K. Dick. The extended Stadlberg has a wistful tone, with a driven beat borne of Krautrock and a lovely set of sonorous long notes up top.

Does it all work?

It does. Overall the album is on the long side, but Ströme show good structural awareness with the variety of styles and speeds they feed into their music.

Is it recommended?

Yes – anyone familiar with the Compost label will recognise Ströme as an excellent musical fit, and anyone loving a bit of classic synthesizer action will be well advised to stop by and indulge.

Listen and Buy

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