Fritz Ostermayer

Kitsch Concrète

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Don't take the title of Fritz Ostermayer's debut album for cash. The idea of "kitsch concrète" music is certainly strange enough for his songs, but it doesn't describe them well. They're kitsch, no doubt, electronic, sure, but hardly concrète. In fact, what Ostermayer offers here is an incredibly odd platter of pre-fabricated electro-pop songs thrown into the avant-garde blender. Take "Ave Little Maria," the opening track: a sweet crooner-type melody backed by a cheap drum machine, cliche Mexican guitar, and a trumpet line that starts as kitsch as possible but suddenly takes off to the farthest fringes of free improvisation -- you just met guest Franz Hautzinger, a master of the quarter-tone rumble. Other guest musicians include improv guitarist Martin Siewert, and clarinetist Karin Ankele, but the arrangements rely mostly on drum machines and keyboards. Does refinement in kitsch lead to luxury and depravation? The whole project has a distinctly decadent aura, from the often sexual lyrics echoing the orgy depicted on the cover, to the idle word plays in the song titles ("Angst in My Pants"). Ostermayer sings in English and German, occasionally slowing down his voice to make it sleazier (in "Skin Fire," very effective). The music quotes and refers to Nick Drake, John Cale, and Sparks, but in the end, Ostermayer's music evokes an aesthete's take on Tom Waits, lazily sexing up in the process any Gothic overtones left in industrial music. It's both very entertaining and disturbing.

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