Laub - Deinetwegen
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Despite releasing their last album (Filesharing) nearly four years ago, the two members of Laub have been busy in the time since then. In addition to both members (Antye Greie and Jotka) starting families of their own, Greie has been plenty busy under the name AGF, releasing an album of her own (Westernization Completed), a collaboration with Zavoloka (Nature Never Produces the Same Beat Twice ), and a collaboration with Vladislav Delay (Explode).

Like fellow German Ekkehard Ehlers' 2006 release A Life Without Fear, Deinetwegen finds Laub mining the blues genre for musical inspiration. Like Ehlers, the group didn't sample any old records, but studied the music of the likes of John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters in creating this deconstructed and blurred interpretation of that sound. Considering their sometimes austere sound, this ten song release is a bit of a change of pace from the duo, with lots of feedback, plenty of guitar licks, and more emotive than usual vocals from Greie.

Compared to Ehlers' somewhat more straightforward interpretation of blues, Laub is definitely much more 21st century, with plenty of electronic programming and other flourishes that wouldn't sound anything like it without the guitar. Opening track "Covering" might be the closest approximation, with drawled-out guitar and wordless vocals from Greie swirling around choppy beats and some loud vocal hollers that really put things in place. The album-titled "Deinetwegen" is more straightforward melancholy electronic pop, with skittering beats, some heavily reverbed guitars, and overlapping droning washes that all line up with more straightforward vocals.

The release is at its best when it breaks down the song structure a little more and ventures into stranger waters. The dark and rumbling "Sommer 2006" is inspired by one of the hottest summers on record in Germany and sounds appropriately alternately oppressive and sultry. Album closer "Ruf" is even more fractured, with buzzing percussion zipping everywhere while stray guitar notes echo into the distance and swarming electronics growl behind the soft words of Greie. It's on these pieces that the group really shines, as on the more pop-oriented tracks the group pretty much loses touch with the more rough edged sounds of the genre they're emulating and instead tread the safe roads that so many blues noodlers have done before them. Outstanding in places and simply okay in others, Deinetwegen is a hit-or-miss return for the duo.

rating: 6.7510
Aaron Coleman 2007-04-19 20:00:28