26 Feb Sankt Otten – Engtanz Depression Album Review (Denovali Records)
Post-rock may have also been the last and greatest victim of co-option and conformity (or can at least share that honor with dubstep), before finally succumbing to postmodern dissolution for good. What became of post-rock? Oh-so-serious dudes in black clothes with long band names, mindlessly aping Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, turned what could have been the most promising mixture of head and heart, guts and chops into a marketing cliché.
Thankfully, the German instrumental duo Sankt Otten rewind the clock with Engantz Depression, and make us reassess the possibilities of blending rock instruments with electronic music for a compelling hybrid that takes post-rock back to its roots, to begin again.
Sankt Otten – Engtanz Depression Full Album Stream
The most immediate antecedents of Engantz Depression (which translates to “slow dancing depression”) would be the collaborations between Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, most notably the instrumental interludes on Another Green World or David Bowie’s Heroes, as there is a similar blend of sequencer workouts and dreamy, distant ambient guitar. This intermingling of rock n’ roll and electronics has staggering potential; as electronic music brings in elements of indeterminacy, steering the vessel in unpredictable ways, instrumentalists are kept on their toes, pushed towards thinking outside the box.
Take, for instance, the album opener “Urlaub Unter Psalm”, with its searing, ebowed guitar, simple but steady beat, and glistening synths, which sound like being caught in a snowstorm. At one point, the key changes a half-step, to give a sneaking and furtive feeling. It’s a deceptively simple shift that many musicians would overlook — but with the intricate modular cogwork of an analog sequencer, such unlikely patterns become possible. You will definitely be seeing stars when listening to Engantz Depression – as well as meteor showers, wormhole tunnels, supernovas. You may also experience moments of robotic insect warfare (“Beten, Tanzen, Kuessen”), and crumbling decrepitude (“Wo Es Immer Regnet”), as well as a wide range of emotions.
And as ever, no synthesis is complete with shoddy fidelity. If either the rock or electronic palette sounded weak or thin, Engantz Depression would fall apart like a Yugo’s transmission. They never falter, however, as Engantz Depression functions quite nicely, both as good electronic music and good instrumental rock ‘n roll.
Sankt Otten have discovered what a small handful of bands during the 2000s found out: that a successful blending of rock and electronics is like a miracle drug that will make you hyper-prolific and endlessly creative, as the duo have cranked out nearly an album a year, after a six-year hiatus.