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coverpic flag Germany - Full Moon 233 - 08/29/15

The 23s
Karaoke Kalk

Karaoke Kalk's The 23s (not to be confused with UK's, now defunct Brit-pop quartet The 23's) is a project steered by one Harmonious Thelonious (a.k.a. Stefan Schwander). Yes, The 23s is a mysterious one-man band, gliding through cinematic cocktail electronica, holding gentle, smooth grooves and harmonic instrumental pop. To quote Karaoke Kalk: 'Welcome back to the movielike resonating sound world of The 23s.'

The Düsseldorf-based (?) The 23s (or Twentythrees) put out the album Bolivia (on Karaoke Kalk as well) in 2008. Since then... well, there has been a long line of Harmonious Thelonious releases - albums as well as EPs (on various labels). Flamingo lands Schwander/23s in the outskirts of an imaginary dance-floor, maybe nearer to the cocktail lounge department. Flamingo warm and laidback, low-keyed and relaxed ambient, melodic techno songs are, according to Popmatters: 'too mellow and undanceable for house or disco, too busy and rhythmic for ambient or downtempo.' The label calls Flamingo's ten tracks 'romantic smooth operators.' Yes, they are, but also maybe a tad too soft, too smooth. This is lay-down sofa music for headphone listening hours. The listening experience leaves you chilled and at ease - freed from most tension and anxiety which could occupy your mind and body. The 23s' music tries to 'do another kind of music - something that isn't entertainment, something that isn't show, something that goes gently straight to your soul.' yes, true words, but the entertainment should maybe have been a couple of clicks higher on the scale. I feel like almost dozing when listening to the album. It is nice, yes, and it is comforting for sure - sometimes with some baroque moments, but I miss some rougher edges, some more rugged sound landscapes in-between. According to Karaoke Kalk, 'the album can be seen as a love-letter to the movie scores of the French 70s cinema or the impressionistic sound arrangements you can hear in the early cinema of Peter Greenaway.'

All in all, Flamingo is comfortable and sweet, but... well, like I said: I'd rather get lost in the music (according to the artist's vision, or goal), than lost to my sofa's comfort.

PS! Soon Flamingo will be 'accompanied by a bunch of remixes tuned in/twisted by German post-rock/electronic music veterans To Rococo Rot, German producers/artists/DJs Edward (a.k.a. Gilles Aiken, from the Giegling / White labels) and Christian S (of the Cómeme label tribe), Canadian producer The Mole and others.'

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