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Review and interview: RVDS - Shadows

Released on It's

New music from Richard Von Der Schulenburg is always welcome to me, as, while style and appeal may vary his general approach is something so special it’s as a rule interesting what he comes up with. Now “Shadows”, his second album as RVDS (released on his own imprint It’s) manifested and it is not just interesting, it is remarkably good.

“Shadows” appears not just as a bunch of tracks but as a proper album, there is a proper prelude (“Shadows I”), a likewise proper finale named “Shadows II” and a lot of things happening in between. “Shadows I” introduces the show, a beatless yet grooving 303, shifting frequencies and detroitish strings, and illustrates, as well as second track “Minuet de Vampire“ with its casual piano chords over softly ticking mid tempo beats, RVDS’ idea of allowing his music to shy away from yelling for instant attention but rather just let it go.

With “Tears” and “Ghosts” RVDS then gets into House territory, grooving virtuously and fleet-footedly but still avoiding the superficial punch that became a stereotype in House and resulted in such a lot of bangers with a lack of subtlety. Absolutely great. It’s not that there wouldn’t be any bangers on “Shadows” though: “Dust” and “Energy” are full throttle acid techno with the 303 working hard and the claps hissing and rattling. “Energy” on top of that has these stunning vocal announcements by Giada Pesce that indeed energize the track. Easily as good as that is the not-banging aimless drifting of “Sun And Moon In Cat Eyes” or “Moonlight” with Italo Pop drum fills and even jazzy keyboards floating around. At first listen one tends to underestimate this kind of stuff but if you get into it you wish it would just go on and on and on.

Unfortunately it doesn’t go on forever with “Shadows 2” ending the whole thing. And it comes as another surprise: a kind of vocal pop song par excellence with Richard singing with his unperfect perfect pop voice. Mesmerizing, quite distant and full of melancholy. And to me it seems, strangely enough, to be a weird negative to David Bowies “Outside” record. Bowie back then took the whole Eno-Big Art-Symbol Heavy-Ghostly-circus developing songs as “I’m Deranged” or “No Control” (David Lynch of course jumped on it) and it became a pretentious monster of an album, a little underrated cause some songs are really good. “Shadows 2” obviously totally lacks the Bowie feeling of gaudiness and trying (too) hard but the atmosphere has a weirdly similar feel to it fed by the singing and the melody. Music for travelers and searchers, both thin white duke David and thin white duke Richard, yet they started from counterpoints.

The funny thing about “Shadows” and Richards oevre in general is the immediate classification as (as I said earlier) “special” or “odd” (odd? see the interview below), it obviously seems to trigger a perception as divergent from normal. If this perception is necessary or even makes sense you have to judge for yourself but while listening to “Shadows” it seemed quite unfair to me that this record doesn’t get way way more attention and applause than it actually gets, maybe because people at first listen think of it as strange. Some people seem to expect this kind of electronic music, name it Techno, Acid or House, to be straighter, to be tougher and more definite and some may even suspect that RVDS is playing tricks on them mocking the icy earnestness or the testosterone-soaked masculinity that characterizes a lot of electronic music these days but, honestly girls and guys, for one thing, pomp isn’t everything and for another thing, this is what “Acid” and “Detroit” regularly were back in the days: musicians doing stuff just the way they want it to.

On “Shadows” RVDS doesn’t try to be witty or clever, he simply follows his ideas and I have the slight suspicion that he maybe is simply more gifted with talent than others. The unruffled casualness of RVDS’ Acid Machine is in a world of watching the others while optimizing yourself maybe the stuff we need to get away from overrating definiteness. “Shadows” is sometimes melancholic and sometimes not, sometimes funny, strange, familiar, party music and not and sometimes five things altogether. And sometimes this music just shrugs its shoulders and meanders along for some minutes. Pure bliss, pure relief. Odd that this should be odd.

Written by João Geck

Interview with RVDS talking about the new album, the Golden pudel club and more. Questions by João Geck.

Q: On your new album "Shadows" (and that´s nothing new to your work) different genres and influences from Deep House via Jazz to Acid and so appear. Is that kind of a concept or does it happen just naturally? And if you´d be forced to describe "Shadows" in your own words, what would you say?

A: It naturally happens. I’m always interested in different kind of music and an album can show the difference more than a 12” or an e.p.. The title “Shadows“ just came to me during the production. First of all I produce most of the tracks with a delay called “Super Echo“ and it sounds for me like something „behind“ like a shadow. Then there was this fire at Golden Pudel Club and suddenly the club where I worked and played was not accessible so this was a real loss. And what was left felt to me also like „shadows“ ...
Q: Your music, for one reason or another, often is perceived and described as somehow "odd" or "leftfield". Is that ok with you? Or even intended?

A: Yes, that is ok, but I don’t know if “leftfield“ fits. I always have to think about the Trainspotting movie. Well, it is „odd“ and probably one influence is the music of Detroit.
Q: Who did the vocals on "Energy" and "Shadows II"? And (because they (especially on "Shadows II") fit in so good): do you have any plans of producing more music with vocals? Maybe more song-oriented stuff?

A: The vocals on “Energy“ are by Giada Pesce und on “Shadows II“ by myself, like on “Pain“ from my first album “Moments”. I can’t plan to do more music with vocals. It just happens! There are two more songs which I produce for my Italo Disco ego Riccardi Schola which will be released on Bordello A Parigi at the end of Febuary 2017.

Q: Like most of your stuff you released the new record on your own label It´s, a label that on the other side releases mostly your own records. Why do you do it that way?

A: The label It’s“ is there to release music which won’t be released on any other label. I can release there without doing any compromise, otherwise some of the tracks would be still on the hard disk.

Q: You´re part of the collective that runs the (temporarily unavailable) Golden Pudel Club in Hamburg. The Pudel has always been a special place, would you say that there´s a particular Pudel vibe in your music? And what news can you tell us about the Pudel-rebuilding?

A: The album is really dedicated to the Pudel Club. That’s why there are pictures of the Pudel floor involved in the artwork (have a close look). So there is this vibe on it. The Pudel is my influence.

News about the Pudel i don’t really have - just that it will be rebuild and that must be done very good, cause it has to last forever.

Thanks a lot!
02.03.2017 - 19:01 – by Hendrik Warnke / hendrik@wordandsound.net

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