Review: Yamo - 'Time Pie'
Yamo - 'Time Pie' (EMI-Electrola/Odeon/Spin, 7243 8 54172 2 1
Finally released in May of this year (1997), the debut album from Wolfgang Flür's Yamo project showcases the particular style of his vocals and stories which has little if anything in common with Kraftwerk's material. Should this be a surprise? After all, a cursory glance at past Kraftwerk releases reveals no mention of Wolfgang Flür amongst the composition credits. Quite what input to the overall Kraftwerk sound was Wolfgang Flür's responsibility will likely remain an imponderable, what with Kraftwerk's reticence to discuss specifics. Musically however, there are echoes of Kraftwerk and their techniques, far more than I originally expected before hearing the album I must admit. But you should approach this album in the knowledge that it should come with no promise to brook Kraftwerk comparisons.
'Time Pie' then is an eclectic mix of kitsch analogue sounds and the very much in-vogue scrunched-up distorted ambience that Mouse On Mars, amongst others, have uncovered as a viable avenue for exploration. And, in places, a very contemporary dance groove too it must be noted. Mouse On Mars signature is writ large upon proceedings in fact — if you are familiar with their work, in particular their previous 'Iaora Tahiti' album, a touch of deja vu will be present with 'Stereomatic', which is in fact an upgraded, be-vocalled version of that albums opening dubbed-up dreamy 'Stereomission'.. which featured a certain Mr Flür as guest percussionist on Mouse On Mars version.
Apart from the music, the lyrics/vocals steal the attention - for sure, Wolfgang Flür displays an extremely recognisable and unmistakable style of his own. Not quite singing, these are more like exaggerated tales from a story teller. Supplanted by additional female vocalists in parts, such as 'Mosquito' and 'Stereomatic', the Kraftwerk past is evidenced in the electronic vocals/vocoders of many of the tracks. 'Speech Dancer' in particular could be Flür's very own take on the techniques of 'Music Non Stop', easy. Similarly, 'Naked Japanese features some form of vocal processing that sounds as weird as hell on first listening but has a charm of its own — like the track itself, on first listen I scratched my head and think, 'what is this?!', as it slides into a heavy backbeat and unashamed analogue workout. 'Time Pie' itself, a minimally sleek techno-flavoured groove with the barest of vocals sneaks in some fast-clocking vocals which hark back to 'Computer World 2', no question about it, with the lightest of melodies filling the background space in. On a track such as 'Tra Testa E Mano' however, I have to wonder how much of the proceedings is Flür and how much the input of Mouse on Mars is responsible, since it sounds so much like something that would have slotted in with ease on 'Iaora Tahiti'
The stand out tracks however are 'Guiding Ray', which has a definite NEU!-like motorik beat propelling it onwards and upwards and 'Dr UG.LY', whose infectious electronicically chirruping backbeat and lo-fi vocoded hook are home to Wolfgang Flür's affected vocal which will either endear itself to your heart instantly, as it did mine, or drive you up the wall!
As with Elektric Music, there are unquestionably Kraftwerk techniques present and correct here but you should approach with an open mind — this work has a style all of its own, its nearest neighbours being the Mouse On Mars/Orb-like ambient-grunge tactics prevalent in recent years. I'd recommend you seek it out and judge for yourself.
Tracklisting; Time Pie (Minute Pie) (3:49), Mosquito (Hunting Feels Better) (3:44), Stereomatic (Stereomagic) (4:41), Awomanaman (The Kiss) (4:54), Aurora Borealis (Greatest Show For Free) (6:52), Guiding Ray (Space journey to FFF towns) (7:35), Tra Testa E Mano (Between Head and Hands) (4:48), Speech Dancer (Talk Back) (4:18), Naked Japanese (Wrong or Right) (4:33), Dr UG.LY (More Than Slim) (3:57), UG.LY on the Run (Never Stands Still) (1:53)
Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010