Just recently Deine Lakaien released Dual, a concept double album that thrilled old and new fans alike. Unfortunately, the tour had to be postponed until next year because of the Corona pandemic. Instead, this Friday the band presents us with another album - Dual+. We were already allowed to listen and can thus tell you: It’s a surprise package that has it all!
If you like unwrapping presents, you should stop reading at this point and listen to the work for yourself first. It’s worth it!
The ribbon that holds the musical package together consists of two lullabies: At the beginning there is an original composition. Its introduction refers to the etherical sounds used in the song “Unkown friend” on Dual. Floating gently between minor and major, Alexander Veljanov sings a small child to sleep and creates a comforting oasis of calm. The end, in which guardian angels watch over the child, seems a little detached at first. This part becomes clear, though, with the closing lullaby by the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka. In fact, the musical structure of the Cradle Song is strongly oriented along the classical piece, which ends with a prayer for the sleeping child.
The wrapping paper has already been released with lyric videos on YouTube. “Nightfall” fits in perfectly after the first piece, featuring very similar major-minor changes being a typical Lakaien ballad. In addition, it features almost poetically lyrical stanzas. The somewhat driving rhythm is a bit more complex here than usual and, like the phrygian harmony (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_mode) at the beginning of the verses and in the motif to “Nightfall, Nightfall”, a direct reference to the following cover.
The psychedelic mood of “Set the controls for the heart of the sun” has been taken back a bit by Mr. Horn and I am sure that Pink Floyd would make the piece in a similar way today. Alexander Veljanov’s vocals then form the cover into a Deine Lakaien song without betraying the original.
After working our way through the literally celestial wrapping paper, the first surprise jumps at us with “Self Seeker”. The track is reminiscent of 1987 - the second Lakaien album that was released as the seventh - both in terms of the experimental electronics and of the vocals. At first, the track drags itself through the verses, crossing a grotesque bridge, then spiraling higher and higher in the chorus before falling down again. Very theatrical in terms of drama.
In the following 2nd version of “Run”, which can already be found as a song on Dual, the pentatonic harmony is set more into the foreground. This makes the piece seem a bit more fragile as if performed in a small theatre. The Lakaien version of “Losing my religion”, which surprisingly comes along purely acoustic with the piano accompaniment arranged beautifully by the former conductor Horn, also fits in with this. A distant flute is added to approach the climax that is reached when similarly restrained strings join in. A piece that one would like to hear live, especially since Veljanov interprets R.E.M. in his own way, but still true to the work.
And still there is no end to the surprises. Devo is a band, whose dissonant, synthetic music certainly had an influence on the early musical development of Deine Lakaien. Their Mr. DNA is also accompanied here exclusively by piano. Hands and arms hurt just from listening here. Nevertheless, headphones are recommended, because Ernst Horn plays diligently with the stereo setting, so that Alexander’s voice almost seems to come from all around.
The following original composition “Altruist” is a quiet piece with introverted electronics. Nevertheless, this piece in particular could be the counterpart to Mr. DNA since it takes up the lyric line “He’s an altruistic pervert” in a positive way. The piece reminds me of “Prayer” from the album “White Lies”, which is about cloning a person who is altruistic from the bottom of her heart.
However, it’s not easy to classify the song, because Devo influences can also be found in the following, again very experimental-electronic “Fork”. A piece of art!
Unfortunately, this was the last track in this package. The lullaby from the collection “Songs and Dances of Death” by Glinka, already mentioned at the beginning, forms the conclusion. Surprisingly, there is no piano accompaniment here of all things, as one would expect from a classical piece (as for example here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiUXArdvAvQ). Indeed, Dual+ features surprises. However, the damped plucked strings, balalaika sounds, and strings perfectly support Veljanov’s soft voice, who of course sings here beautifully in Russian.
Before I end, let me note that for me the cover idea here comes across more naturally compared to Dual. The strongly experimental electronics are certainly a treat for “old” Lakaien fans. All in all, it is an album for music lovers that stands entirely for itself and actually deserves its own name. How lucky we are that Deine Lakaien had this silver disc pressed!
(c) Joerg Grosse-Geldermann