Actually I had already turned Ilka down for this review. In principle, I approach music in a very gut-oriented way, no matter if it’s for my private use or for a review for our magazine. The first time I listened to this album the music didn’t appeal to me but I’m also a prisoner of self-imposed traditions and habits which is one of the topics the album confronts–
and so I realized at some point that one must approach this record in a very different way.
The record SECRECY THROUGH PUBLIC DISBELIEF is not really about the music. Sound is just a means of transport, a medium for a philosophical artistic message, which one should deal with before turning on the CD player. Suddenly things appear quite different from their first impression and my personal disbelief in much of the public sphere is growing from year to year!
If you browse the Internet, you will first come across an overall artistic project called Die Diebe (The Thieves), who are active in various disciplines under the wonderfully cheeky motto “We take care of the capital-fair application of artistic releases”. Written differently, Die Diebe becomes DIE DIE BE. This combo from Lucerne, consisting of Mater and Spirit or Lili Vanilly and Bujar Berisha, is part of the concept. If you translate the band name from German into English, the thieves become the expression DIE, DIE and BE.
“Die twice to be. Destroy the fear. Do not believe in money anymore. Believe in yourself. Overcome materiality, overcome spirituality”. This is the main theme of the record and I would like to analyze its music a little deeper.
Puristically reduced to synthesizer, drums, and two voices we are drawn into a sometimes trance-like pull, which lives through its minimalism. Dull, wafting rhythms are covered with simple soundscapes, which often just hardly make a melody. The vocal parts often resemble a kind of rap. The music does not want attention, it only wants to lead over to the thoughts behind it.
In “Signal / Noise” one can sense a soft relationship with early electronic projects, there’s a little bit more melody than in the first few songs of the record but just a moment later we’re back to pure purism.
The video for «FEAR» supports the monotonous drift of the song with an ancient videogame, where apparently instead of a ball a coronavirus is kicked back and forth. “Who controls the fear, controls you?” A good question at a time when people are confronted with fear on a daily basis from all sides but above all, it is we ourselves who are being frightened. Why is that?
Again and again, the band, if one may call this formation that at all, focuses on fundamental questions of our modern existence. This existence takes on more and more perverse characteristics in a neo-capitalism with the idol money (“Fake Money”), which has completely gone off the rails. One would like to point out that a person who allows oneself to be taken over by consumption and learnt predetermined role behaviours, functions at best, but certainly does not lead one’s real life. The message is to leave this material striving behind in order to find oneself. The first death, the first die.
Up to this point, one could almost recognize a similar approach as in Buddhism, but from that, so to speak, the invitation to die the second death warns. Which means spiritually. As the Swiss say so beautifully: “In a wider context, this second death is an invention of religion. To bind us to it”. A very interesting thought, and let’s be honest: Isn’t it really true that people are told by all kinds of faiths that they only have good cards if they join their club and its rules? In the Middle Ages, the beggarly serfs on the field were also told that they would be rewarded in an afterlife. Hunger and poverty in this life were good. And the representatives of these faiths who spread this wisdom ate their fat belly full every day. Preaching water, drinking wine, the clergy does not have a unique right to do that, I can think of a few other fractions.
These messages are wrapped up in very monotonous, synthetic sounds, which occasionally remind us of the minimalist and deliberately reduced structures during the Neue Deutsche Welle. This style was certainly intended at that time as well, although I had no idea what to do with it. I think, on the one hand, they wanted to create a contrast to the New Wave and, on the other, to distance themselves from the often melancholic and dramatic Kraut-rockers.
Here, however, we are dealing with much more important topics, because of the alienation of humans from their so beautiful environment, their culture as a social being, and the spiritual enslavement of the individual in an all-controlling, unspeakably money-hungry or ideologically blinded society will inevitably not have a good end. Seen in this light, one must be grateful for anyone who wants to show people ways to emancipate themselves. Recognize the Matrix and free yourself from it – that is something very close to my own heart, even if such thoughts are anything but popular with mainstream people.
Rhythmically underlaid with an especially poppy sound, we start searching for the key to breaking out of the vicious circle. Maybe that’s why AWA KEY has the most melodic parts on the album. Here, in an almost New Wave-like gloomy sound, reminiscent of the eighties, small walls of palpated notes pile up for the first time and convey a very little weird harmony. Hope?
I think the title song SECRECY THROUGH PUBLIC DISBELIEF gives the answer to this. Letting go of things we don’t need and throwing them overboard, that’s how I understand the message. Here we get, in contrast to most of the other songs on the album, a more or less continuous sound carpet of dark synthesizer sounds over a particularly reduced beat. The electronic sequences gurgle and murmur in the background. Very far in the cerebellum, some tender memories of Can from Cologne and their experimental sounds come up. The hypnotic CHANGE / HOPE burns itself into the listener’s brain convolutions, chiseled in as if by an electronic guru calling to dissect him. Spirituality, the second death to live.
One has to experience this music beyond conventions in the context of its philosophical background in order to be able to open up to the overall experience. If one accepts this challenge, strong impressions remain with the question of where one wants to stand in this world. Stylistically, the album is certainly in the pop range, but fortunately, it is far from being suitable for radio. Avant-garde electro-pop with depth and wisdom of life that maybe we wished for. Cool.