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Wir Sind Hier

Wir Sind Hier
(Karaoke Kalk)

Having heard a couple different releases from one Mr. Ekkehard Ehlers, I would have never expected him to have such a pop music bone in his body. It seems, though, that with his partner-in-crime Albrecht Kunze, a different musical switch in his body is triggered, resulting in the warm electronic pop of März. Wir Sind Hier is the follow-up to their debut album Love Streams, and it fits in perfectly alongside the laptop-filtered folktronica of labelmates like Donna Regina and Wechsel Garland.

The album opens with "Forever Never," and over shimmering beds of filtered electronics come strummed acoustic guitars and enough of a bassline to keep the track moving along nicely while breathy vocals and harmonicas mingle about in a way that turns the vocals into a tangled haze. On "März Im Park," the duo sounds something like a German version of The Books as samples of birds singing mix with vocals, cut-up guitars and other filtered electronics in a way that works quite nicely. Embracing things fully, the duo drops plenty of hooks and a lovely guitar/glockenspiel duet on "The Pop Song."

Not all of the tracks on the album have vocals, though, and in some places it actually feels like they're missing. "Tropige Trauben" mingles lap steel guitar with lots of clicks and plucks and programmed shuffles, but ultimately the track never really goes much of anywhere, while the longer "Blaue Fäden" takes things in a clubbier direction with a more straightforward beat and plenty of looped chimes and banjos, but at nearly seven minutes doesn't offer up enough variation to keep things interesting.

On the other side of things, "Oktober Im Park" again follows a completely non-traditional structure as the first half of the track is all deep harmonic tones before the second half of the track turns into a sing-along with banjoes and chimes that pieces together with the first section of the track gracefully. Even though it's one of the more repetitive tracks on the album, it's hard not to be won over by the infectious warmth of "The River" as well, as flickering slivers of chimes and other electronics mingle with guitar and glockenspiel as soft vocals repeat only a couple phrases over and over before a hypnotic 4/4 thump carries the track home. While there are a couple tracks where the album sags a bit, overall Wir Sind Hier is a highly enjoyable album that mixes electronic and organic instrumentation in a way that feels fresh.

Rating: 7