When their debut cut was released in spring 2006 many have seen "Water The Flowers" in the same musical cosmos as Micatone or Madita. Amazingly, as well as fortunately, critics haven´t brought up that comparison, but instead have highlighted that special, very own character of Nekta´s music. They perceived "Water The Flowers" as a "masterpiece of jazzy lounge music" (Frankfurter Neue Presse) of high musical standard, albeit presented with refreshing realness and relaxed laid-backness. Not only enthusiastic reviews, but also the fact that Japanese jazz band Native spontaneously joined Nekta in the studio after hearing them the previous night at Frankfurt night club "Walden", are proof for the wonderful feedback Nekta´s music has received. Nekta´s songs are also featured on the American TV series "Las Vegas" on NBC and "Gossip Girl" on Warner.
Much to the participants´ delight Nekta´s music was noticed as what it was. The successful attempt to put Jazz and Pop, accoustic and electronic sound generators, and a danceable club appeal on one hand with the qualities of song-writing on the other under one common denominator. And the fact that Gyso Hilger, highly esteemed sound designer, arranged and produced in a much more organic manner than the original electronic compositions would have had you assume, led to the often praised homogenous sound. It may well be Nekta´s luck not to be living in a trendy metropolis and to be removed from the on-going discussions on hipness and the pressure to steadily set new trends. The Hessian city of Darmstadt, home to Jugendstil (art nouveau) and a small but vibrant music scene, is a good place for creative and successful working. And being adjacent to Frankfurt (home to the label), an international traffic hub, the rest of the world is but a stone´s throw away.
"Storybook" seamlessly continues this journey and again makes it hard to say wether the eleven new titles are retro, still modern or already classically timeless. The two of them aren´t even asking themselves, where are we with our music. "Everything we like is getting mixed up without regard to genre lines". This keeps the project free from dogma. It´s quite conspicuous to see the extremes of both musical poles being put into higher relief, jazz sounding just a bit jazzier and electronic just a bit more electronic, instead of seeking solely melange or pure harmony in the interplay. Nekta remains a cliché- free zone, for you will look in vain for obvious samples with motifs from the history of jazz. Hilger is more subtle, like a game of puzzle, when he redefines the term sampling for himself and Nekta. It is never about any particular songs or hommage to an artist but rather about the aesthetic of certain musical genres. There are no obvious quotes.
The live accoustic instruments such as stand-up bass, drums (the drummer´s passion is to convert old suitcases into percussive instruments), sax, trumpet, flute and accordion as well as analog synths such as the Korg MS10 contributed much to the rich colors of sound. Also vibes and harp- after all floating Fender rhodes are quite boring- were on Nathalie´s wish list for a song. Those are coming out of a sampler, with Gysos´ ambition being to make them sound as un-fake as possible. Hilger is using a lot of finesse on the lightest nuances and finest details, and by that creates a Swing fit for the 21st century. Here, transcendence isn´t a mere term, but derived from the confrontation of diverse, diverging styles- another reason for the music´s dynamics.
One can´t miss out on the fact that Nathalie Schäfer´s voice, often heard through scratches or electronic distortion, has gained new facets. "But I still see my voice as childlike and naive, although with me these terms aren´t negatively connotated. I don´t have that power soul voice", Nathalie not having any trouble with her self-perception. She loves the innocent look in children´s eyes as they see the world for the first time. "There is something pure and clear about it, and i´m still like that somehow. I can remember my childhood so well."
Even if Nathalie Schäfer stresses that she is not a lyricist, like Ricky Lee Jones, by whom she is inspired a lot, but rather plays with the sound of words and rhymes and by that approaches lyrics more intuitively, instead of formulating a clear message fraught with significance, the title "Storybook" nevertheless isn´t far-fetched. Of course there are stories about life, about getting older ("No Need To Rumble"), self-confession ("Better Be You") or a ten-minutes-out-of-my-life snapshot, thoughts in which to recognize one self ("Me And My Mind"). Flowing lyrics that come into existence in the process of writing and singing, a skill masterd by Cole Porter in her sight, is a great art form which incenses her.
released October 9, 2009
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