Style is an elusive quality in life.
Everybody wants it, few have it.
Most people look for it in the wrong
places or try to buy the next best
substitute. What one calls Style
may be bad taste to somebody else.
And while the latter can be discussed
and argued about at length, no one
can deny that the music of De-Phazz
is simply a question of good Style.
Nor more, no less. A little over
a year after its incredible Universal-debut,
this "open project" orbiting
around Pit Baumgartner proves that
there is life after "Death
Of Chocolate". The reincarnation
is called "Daily Lama"
and is the new, by now fourth album
by De-Phazz. But to call this an
album would be like calling a "Polynesian
Pleasure Punch" a cocktail.
Which it is, no doubt. Just like
these twenty tracks in their entirety
produce a longplaying album. But
quite like in the case of the "Polynesian
Pleasure Punch", the many diverse
ingredients of "Daily Lama",
once combined, result in something
much more than the sum of its parts.
Dub and Disco, Soul and Jazz, electronic
Chansons and loungy Zulu-Grooves,
a touch of Dancehall and every possible
Latin-rhythm mix themselves into
something new, exciting, never seen
or heard before. One could call
it Loungecore, Mamboom, Swank, "Kitsch
with Class" or maybe just Music.
Sure enough, there is one essential
thing, besides craftsmanship and
cleverness, one needs to produce
such a sexy, sarcastic, subtle musical
mosaic. And that is Style.
A vinylcracking Jazzpiano plays,
a deep voice intones "You followed
your faith", a scream of "What
me say?" counts into one of
those unresistably de-phazzy Latinbeats
and we are right in the middle of
"Looks", the opening number
of the new De-Phazz album. Karl
Frierson sings "Looking at
the sun looking down on me"
and with that transports us directly
and smoothly onto life's sun-deck.
"You stayed" crawls with
a few George Benson-like licks into
a groove that sways like a lazy
camel in the shadow of a palm (yes,
this certainly is music for and
from a land, where this four-letter
word describes a tree, not an organizer).
On top if this floats the smooth
voice of Pat Appleton, who sings
a heartfelt ode to her favorite
tree: "You stood, you swayed,
I moved on, you stayed". Clouds
roll by while dark, almost macabre
rockguitars swell into a string-crescendo,
and Barbara Lahr asks "What's
behind?". Soon accompanied
by a choir, she is interested in
uncovering both the personal and
the global-political backgrounds.
Everything but "Easy Listening",
indeed. The weighty dragging groovemonster
"Wrong Dance" gets counted
in as a waltz in a Southernpacific
Patois, and only the irresistably
lush flutes counter its animal magnetism.
The guaranteed (late-)summer-hit
arrives with the elegantly swinging
"Atomic Ducktail", on
which De-Phazz-Darling Pat Appleton
sings "mix it right"-
knowing all too well that hordes
of fun seekers will happily follow
her lead. "Cup Of Hope"
could be, if only for its Southafrican
Zulu-groove, as well about the "Africa
Cup" of the continent's soccer
league or the "Cape of Good
Hope". Anyways, there's plenty
reason to get carried away by the
melodic harmonies of a choir of
Miriam Makeba-soundalikes and those
perfectly pearling guitars (courtesy
of Adax Dörsam). What "True
North" is about, may not be
that important, apart from the fact
that singer Karl Frierson and his
former choir-colleague Charity are
moved back and forth by the spirit.
More importantly it is "all
in the mix". In this, as in
the case of many other De-Phazz
songs, there is everything good
and right and positive to be found
in it. The mix, that is.
"Almost Gone" is a smooth
Fender-Rhodes interlude that Pit
Baumgartner expertly laced with
a "first-ladylike" atmosphere.
This leads into "Nightmare",
a song in which Pat is leading us
to belive that such nocturnal activities
are her preferred method of preparation
for the next day. Accompanying this
is the ultra-smooth baritone-sax
of Frank Spaniol, as well as a dramatic
stringsection and a wormlike moog
out of Pit's sampler. "Preachin
to the choir" increases the
tempo while singer Karl likewise
increases his state of undress.
Even the excellent horn-riffs of
Joo Kraus seem to delight while
the singer, as he is likely to do
during De-Phazz' liveshows, performs
a (not only verbal) striptease.
"Try" is a sentimental
ballad of losing in love and losing
oneself in love. A pleasant surprise,
if only for the fact that it flatters
the heart without any of the ususal
ironic fluttering of the eyelids.
Angel J., leadsinger of the girlgroup
"Black 2 Blond", offers
Pit the opportunity to show his
appreciation of American R&B-Pop
á la Brandy with this song.
Now, what's this? Could it be the
late German Diva Hildegard Knef?
Close, but not quite. It is Pat
Appleton who chansons about the
fact that love is just a "stupid
game" ("Dummes Spiel").
All this to such a supremely subtle
Mambo that one hardly finds the
time to worry about the fact that
this is the very first De-Phazz
song in the band's native tongue.
A "Grand Prix" contender
in the best possible sense (d`Eurovision,
"Things & Times" sways
smooth, sensual and instrumental
between wah wah-trumpets and plucked
Kalimbas until it ends as the backingtrack
to a singing Potmaker from Ireland.
The "Belle de Jour" is
elegantly strutting along, joined
by almost James Last-like horn-swabs,
and proclaims sexy and selfassuredly
"What an affair!". With
the soulful "Wait" singer
Karl gives voice to his daughter's
impatience, who keeps asking questions
like "when will I have muscles
just like you?". The blues
pays his dues on "Down The
Railroad", whose dubbed rhythms
drift dangerously delightful on
top of the de-formation of a well-known
Soul Jazz-Hit. Dramatic string-hits
(of the kind any HipHop producer
would be proud of) open "Desert
D´Amour", a miracle of
a chanson written by Otto Engelhardt
about the wonderful qualities of
Karl states in the funkiest way
possible what he sonsiders to be
really important in life: "Style"
(see above). Karl has it and the
bassline, horns and strings of this
song very well do too. A longing
bluesguitar slowly but surely leads
into "Word In A Rhyme",
a headnoddin' rhythm with many a
sing-along melody by Barbara Lahr.
Last but not least Otto Engelhardts
"Jean-Mi" ends the new
De-Phazz album "Daily Lama"
on a gentle note with its dreamily
sprinkled piano-licks and birdcalls.
For more than five years now producer
and former "radio-drama"
editor Pit Baumgartner and his band
of friends and colleagues have been
enjoying the creative freedom of
making organic and electronic music
as De-Phazz. Pit, who admits to
being too lazy to practice guitar
and just technically versed enough
to handle a sampler (the latter
fact being well supported by his
remix-work on Ella Fitzgerald's
"Wait Till You See Him"
for "Verve Remixed"),
edits his way through the history
of music. "I see myself more
as an editor who combines the different
pieces of a musical puzzle, who
combines the little pieces of a
mosaic, than as a composer",
he explains. Early in 2002 it was
time to start this process once
again. Pit compiled some of his
musical "mosaics" and
sent them out to the "usual
suspects". Among those are
the aforementioned Otto Engelhardt,
who not only plays all sorts of
musical instruments but delights
in the occasional lyrical exploit
as well, the singers and songwriters
Karl Frierson, Pat Appleton and
Barbara Lahr (who is also the very
first solo artist on Pit's Universal-distributed
the trumpeter Joo Kraus (famous
for his Jazzwork in the late 70s
and his recent success with his
"Tab Two") and many, many
more. All of those wrote, rhymed
and composed their own ideas on
top of Pit's and then sent the tapes
back to him. The mastermind in turn
once again re-arranged their contributions,
to send the newly de-phazzed constructs
back to his musical cohorts. And
so it went, back and forth, until
everyone involved was satisfied
and happy. With fairy-tale-like
speed this collaborational process
led to this wonderful new album,
"Daily Lama". It is an
important, as well as incredible
step for De-Phazz, at the same time
leading to more diversity and to
a closer unity. Above all, it just
may be the best musical thing to
happen this autumn. Trust this "Daily
Lama" to let the sun shine
in your heart. With style.