Deine Lakaien: Dual (Chrom Records y Prophecy Productions, 2021)

After a seven-year drought, Deine Lakien are back with a new double album. On the one hand, Alexander Veljanov (vocals) and Ernst Horn (instruments) offer us in Dual ten new songs that follow the very personal path traced since 1986. On the other hand, they add ten more songs that cover versions of well-known, experimental or obscure artists.

Foto promocional de Alexander Veljanov y Ernst Horn (Deine Lakaien) para el álbum Dual

For this occasion, the German duo has relied on the Prophecy label (where also Soror Dolorosa or Spiritual Front have been released) as a collaboration with the band’s own label, Chrom Records. The basic CD version comes in digipack format, with a sober and elegant design that includes photos of the couple. In addition, several vinyl and CD versions are also available.

Two related sides

Dual is conceived as a play of references between their versions of The Cure, Kate Bush, etc. and the original songs of the first part of this double album. Thus, Veljanov and Horn point out in the album booklet a link between their track Run and Robert Smit and co.’s The Walk, or for example between In Your Eyes and Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun. Once you assimilate the nuances of the two albums, finding the commonalities of the related tracks is an engaging game.

Less synth pop, more avant-garde

In the first part you will find the ten new and original tracks, full of the avant-garde spirit that has led them to fuse neo-classical music with electronica, industrial sounds and darkwave. However, there is no trace of the synth pop of the likes of Over And Done. We’ll have to wait for possible EPs and singles to see if they’ll go for the dancefloor again, as in VNV Nation’s remix of Where You Are.

Nor does this absence of danceable rhythms detract from the interest of the first part of Dual. On the contrary, successive listens reveal that there is intensity to spare. Proof of this are tracks like Because of Because, Sick Cinema and Run, which make use of electronic percussion, keyboards and Veljanov’s emotive voice.

There is also room for more unhurried havens (Snow, Unknow Friend) and for compositions that swim between varying intensities (Happy Man, Les Oiseaux). Although the album credits do not reflect the instruments used, one can hear both synthesizers and stringed instruments (guitars, harps), pianos and percussions that sound quite organic. Overall, it is a delight to hear the clarity, precision and variety that all the instruments bring, with a good dose of moments that play at breaking conventional structures and sounds.

Distortion and respect

The curiosity to hear cover versions by two accomplished musicians like Veljanov and Horn can be very strong. That was my case, so when the album fell into my hands I jumped straight into them. And of course, among them stands out the respectful and at the same time distorted version of The Walk (The Cure), which engages with its power and its handling of the tempos. This one is really good for the dancefloors, and for surprising people.

Another version that stands out is the song Black Hole Sun by the grunge band Soundgarden. While largely respecting the vocal melody that makes it so recognisable and attractive, Deine Lakaien strip the song of all traces of rock and dress it up in a more industrial style with percussion and synthesizers. Similarly, in Because the Night (Patricia Lee Smith and Bruce Springsteen), the interest lies mainly in the band’s twist on the familiar version, through sounds and rhythms that would be unthinkable in the original.

The musical references on the second disc venture further back than the 1980s, starting with the krautrock of Can in the song Spoon (1971). They continue with the song Dust in the Wind by Kansas (1977), of which the beauty of Veljanov’s voice is worth mentioning, and with Lady D’Arbanville by Cat Stevens (1970). La chanson des vieux amants travels back to Jacques Brel’s 60s, and with Song of the Flea (Modest Mussorgsky, lyrics by Goethe) they dare to go back to 1879, showing that people also knew something about humour at that time.

But as the eighties influence is undeniable (remember that they themselves started out in that decade), as well as The Cure there is space for Kate Bush in a fun version of Suspended in Gaffa, which enhances the circus tone of the original.

An album you don’t burn in a day

In short, Dual is highly recommended for fans of Deine Lakaien who appreciate their qualities beyond synth pop, and who want to investigate their influences. It is also a good album to start getting to know them, and its length and richness allows you to enjoy it over a long period of time.

You can purchase Dual on Bandcamp, as well as on the Propehcy label website and the official Deine Lakaien shop.

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