Various Artists


Bureau B • 2023

Song lyrics are not poetry. No matter how much ambitious German teachers and even more ambitious rappers would like to convince the rest of the world otherwise. Without music, song lyrics would be missing their most significant other half. The high art, then, is to write a text that is capable of existing both with sound and on its own. Which brings us to the compilation »Gespensterland«. The Hamburg label Bureau B is home to a number of artists and groups who use psychedelic folk, lo-fi and kraut to explore the nightmares that have grown in the cracks of Germany’s asphalt. »Ach, Du große Nachtmusik« and »Futura Narkotica« are the signposts to where sound and lyrics lead: »Lichterloh und Feuer frei, immer and dem Ziel vorbei«.  

This compilation offers a glimpse into an emerging scene around projects such as Brannten Schnüre, Freundliche Kreisel, Kirschstein and Baldruin. Everything decelerates, constantly alternating between madness and insanity. The suspicion soon arises that nothing is being topped out on the cover, but rather that something is being laid to rest. This is because, for all the German pop and indie bliss that otherwise reigns in German-language music, »Gespenterland« is a region of shadows, of downsides, of darkness. And yes, it is one of the few occasions when the lyrics can stand on their own merits. (See the disturbing lyrics on »Spannung«!) »Ist es denn ein böser Geist, der so Krach macht und in den Wahnsinn treibt?« (»Is it an evil spirit making so much noise and driving you mad?«) By the end of these fifteen tracks, you’re not too sure who’s the ghost and who’s real. In the end, you’re just glad that you don’t end up with a handful of soil in your face. It’s sound is moving, it’s compilation masterful – in terms of lyrics and sound.