Record of the Week

Stabil Elite “Spumante”

Stabil-Elite-'Spumante'-(Italic-Recordings)Stabil Elite
(Italic Recordings)

This new album of Stabil Elite from Düsseldorf is one of the most satisfying and exiting simulations of the sweet life and 80s glamour, that I’ve heard in quite some time (up until now, I only observed the band marginally, their first two releases from 2011 and 2012 passed me by). As always, when regarding simulation, the object of the simulation is absent. This principle is nicely illustrated by the cover photo, which is working with reflections in which the outlines of the artists are being refracted subtly (if you look very closely).

The subject, the 80s and the glamour, are always already somewhere else, therefore the music can always only be on their trail. The sound on this record is reconstructing an 80s aesthetic, that envisions an era, to which no access exists anymore. This leads to an unfulfilled desire, which Stabil Elite stages by means of musical gestures, that mix cool distance and the wish for closeness, that is embedded in it. Appropriately the vocals are on the verge to pleasantly unagitated inexpressiveness. This converges with the heavily condensed lyrics, that balance between abstraction and maximal pointed emphasis, although the impression that prevails is that the words are eluding, if you regard them detached from the music. The lyrics are organized musically in the regard, that they don’t have a concrete meaning and constantly remain in flux.

In a couple of moments Stabil Elite pull of the feat to be self-reflective and moving at the same time. The decidedly cliche-touching cover scene full of neon lights and insignias of the hedonism ironizes the idea of a specific 80s way of life, but also reveals a underlying desire for it. This is also shown in the album title and the song with the same name, that ranks among the highlights of the record. Key terms like “diplomats“ (Diplomaten) and “cool silk“ (Kühle Seide) are situating the song in the context of a sphere of luxury, which always remains a bit unreal, because of the fragmented way of presentation. Stabil Elite are coquetting with fictions, in which they stay aloof from the boring reality. This approach is being reflected in the alluring elegance of the always slightly excessively seeming music, that gets really close to the ideal of perfect pop music.

If you want to talk about hits in an emphatic sense, you have to mention “Alles Wird Gut“ (Everything Will Be Alright), a vision of a sophisticated pop song, that comes into full bloom in the moment when the saxophone starts playing. The song seems to laid out to be played on the radio and to turn the listeners into better persons. The challenging element, pushing itself to the fore, that refreshes itself herein is being complemented by songs like “Jugend Ohne Gott“ (Youth Without God) or “Welt Hinter Glas“ (World Behind Glass), songs that add a soundtrack to slightly resigned summer nights in overheated city apartments or half-empty bars. You feel reminded of the post-party-atmosphere of Roxy Music’s “Avalon“ or – to remain in Düsseldorf – the sparkling-elegant pop-draft “Magnificent Obsession“ from Fehlfarben’s third Album “Glut und Asche“.

All these songs tell of the end of the moment, of transience, that is sustained in the act of telling, thus as music. „Spumante“ repeats these moments by means of variation. Stabil Elite are proofing, that pop music can be perpetuated by playing it and in that way constructing an own reality. Therefor the existence of pop is bound to practice and performance, just like a language, that only continues to exist, if it is spoken. Speaking about pop music on the occasion of the summer album of 2016.
Mario Lasar

(Translation: Denise Oemcke)

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