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muSix

Heute wie neu (2008)

4.7

April 14, 2009

Tuning / Blend 5.0
Energy / Intensity 4.0
Innovation / Creativity 4.3
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 4.7
Repeat Listenability 4.0
Tracks
1 Bataillon d'Amour 5.0
2 Du Bist Heute Wie Neu 4.7
3 Eisdame 4.7
4 Als Ich Fortging 4.0
5 Viel Zu Weit 4.7
6 Wand an Wand 4.7
7 Heisser Sommer 4.7
8 Irgendwann Werd Ich Mal... 4.7
9 Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt 4.3
10 Nach Süden 4.3
11 Es Gibt Momente 4.0
12 Kling Klang 4.3
13 Inge Pawelczik 4.7
14 Cola-Wodka 4.3
15 Was Soll Aus Mir Werden 5.0
16 Der Blaue Planet 4.7

Recorded 2007 – 2008
Total time: 59:41, 16 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Bataillon d'Amour 5
2 Du Bist Heute Wie Neu 5
3 Eisdame 5
4 Als Ich Fortging 4
5 Viel Zu Weit 5
6 Wand an Wand 5
7 Heisser Sommer 5
8 Irgendwann Werd Ich Mal... 5
9 Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt 5
10 Nach Süden 4
11 Es Gibt Momente 5
12 Kling Klang 5
13 Inge Pawelczik 5
14 Cola-Wodka 5
15 Was Soll Aus Mir Werden 5
16 Der Blaue Planet 5
 1 Bataillon d'Amour BATTALION OF LOVE 2 DU BIST Heute wie neu You
are Today as New 3 Eisdame ??? 4 Als Ich Fortging ??? 5 Viel Zu Weit Too
Far 6 Wand an Wand Wall to Wall 7 Heisser Sommer Hot Summer 8 IRGENDWANN
WERD ICH MAL... I will ??? 9 Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt If a Man Lives 10 NACH
SuDEN Night brews 11 Es Gibt Momente There are Moments 12 Kling Klang
Kling Klang 13 Inge Pawelczik Inge Pawelczik 14 Cola-Wodka Cola-Vodka 15
Was Soll Aus Mir Werden What Should Be From Me 16 Der Blaue Planet The
Blue Planet 

Hallo! Wertschätzung dieser CD voll erfordert Verständnis Deutsch. Wenn Sie also diese Warnung verstehen, du bist auf dem Weg zu einer MuSix Fan.

Don't speak German? Well, that may affect your appreciation of muSix's latest, Heute wie neu ("Today as New"). To help our readers, I plugged muSix's German titles into Google's translation matrix, admittedly to mixed results as the awkward phrases and occasional utter absence of translation attest. Perhaps the group will post English translations in the future. Language barrier aside, this Euro-pop quintet from Berlin delivers an excellent import, jam-packed with 16 slightly jazzy, always elegant pop treats.

Andre Kuntze of Enterprise Studios in Berlin is credited with both recording and production. Kuntze worked with muSix to create a lively but ultimately mellow sound for the group. The team seems to be aiming for a result that's smooth, occasionally reverby, and generally pristine in its clarity. This matches well the jazzy and classical tones and arranging that the group occasionally injects directly into their pop, and which always serves their open vocal quality and blend. For lack of a better adjective, there's something sort of Steely Dan-meets-Brian May's solo album-meets-Maybebop-circa-Superheld about the sound. Was that random enough for you? Yeah. Sorry.

One consequence to the mix is that the group seems ever so slightly distant from the listener. The rawness and immediacy of current pop, hip-hop or rock is eschewed for a gentler, more refined sound. Without a better understanding of the song lyrics, it's hard to know whether this choice best served the songs. It's quite pleasant to listen to, but does give the music a less edgy, slightly dated quality, at least to this American's ears.

With few exceptions, muSix's music appears to fall into three categories: 1) cute and playful (Du Bist Heute Wie Neu, Wand en Wand, Heisser Sommer, Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt, Kling Klang, Inge Pawelczik); 2) dance-ish (Eisdame, Cola-Wodka); 3) Filled with longing (Als Ich Fortging, Viel Zu Weit, Irgendwann Werd Ich Mal..., Nach Süden, Es Gibt Momente, Der Blaue Planet).

If you like those categories, this recording is a must-have. But even if not, it's a top-flight release that won't disappoint.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Bataillon d'Amour 5
2 Du Bist Heute Wie Neu 4
3 Eisdame 5
4 Als Ich Fortging 4
5 Viel Zu Weit 4
6 Wand an Wand 5
7 Heisser Sommer 5
8 Irgendwann Werd Ich Mal... 5
9 Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt 4
10 Nach Süden 5
11 Es Gibt Momente 4
12 Kling Klang 5
13 Inge Pawelczik 5
14 Cola-Wodka 5
15 Was Soll Aus Mir Werden 5
16 Der Blaue Planet 5

Heute wie neu is the latest release from muSix, a five-man a cappella group from Germany. Even without understanding a thing these guys were saying, I found this to be a truly enjoyable album. They are great singers, the arrangements are solid, and the production is spot-on. The men of muSix also have a sense of fun that really comes through in the lighter songs but does not hinder the sweetness or longing of the ballads.

I listened to Heute wie neu a half dozen times before I took a look at the separate letter muSix included (not wanting my review to be influenced by supplemental material that the average purchaser would not receive). They most kindly informed us that the songs are from a time of strict censorship in Germany and provided us with translations of the lyrics.

How I wish these translations were included with the album! Perhaps muSix could send a copy along to any American purchaser. Listening to Heute wie neu while following along with the English translations was a wholly different experience. To know what these songs are actually about adds so much to what is already a great album.

Bataillon d'Amour is about young lust, with "two slim boy's hands . . . caressing her breast" and the playful Inge Pawelczik is about Inge and Bjorn, who "made love all night long" and "plucked each other like crazy". Censorship? Well, disco poppy Eisdame is about an ice cream lady who "sells her ice cream to everyone" and "know all about our secret desires". I think the American version of this song has something to do with a milkshake bringing boys to the yard. Anyway.

My favorite track is Heisser Sommer (hot summer), which has some spoken word, almost rap-like interludes that remind me of the totem poles at Disneyland's Tiki Room . . . in a good way.

If muSix wishes to expand into the American market, I highly suggest they include English translations in their liner notes so that listeners can better identify with the moods that they so aptly convey.


4
Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Bataillon d'Amour 5
2 Du Bist Heute Wie Neu 5
3 Eisdame 4
4 Als Ich Fortging 4
5 Viel Zu Weit 5
6 Wand an Wand 4
7 Heisser Sommer 4
8 Irgendwann Werd Ich Mal... 4
9 Wenn Ein Mensch Lebt 4
10 Nach Süden 4
11 Es Gibt Momente 3
12 Kling Klang 3
13 Inge Pawelczik 4
14 Cola-Wodka 3
15 Was Soll Aus Mir Werden 5
16 Der Blaue Planet 4

Good as new, eh? The Germany-based, funny boy band has released their latest recording called Heute wie neu, which can be loosely translated as "good as new today". So my first question is what was so wrong with the old muSix that they had to consider almost reinventing themselves for '08?

Not a lot.

This is a fun and enjoyable album. They have had a few cast changes, with the honey-voiced Martin Hagen leaving the group so that they are now a quintet instead of a sextet. I love the epic storytelling of Was Soll Aus Mir Werden — it reminds me of Styx and "Kilroy". They continue to be a strongly musical organization, offering richly dynamic songs, captivatingly adventurous arrangements, and masterfully constructed melodies.

The bookends are amazing on this album. Bataillon d'Amour is a great opening song. It has an infectious groove and some smooth vocal lines that really set the standard for the rest of the album. It is one of a handful of tracks that I have on repeat. Der Blaue Planet eases the album out on a sonically serene note.

The issue I have with the album is the fact that the lyrics are slightly banal but preach words so poignant that they don't fit thematically with the music. Now, honestly, I wouldn't know this if the guys hadn't provided a translation shift with the review copy of the album. An excerpt from the letter:

"...dealing with music from the GDR and that is a first for a cappella. Due to strict censorship in this time the texts were very important and sometimes more poetical than in western pop-culture..."

Sounds like pretty heady and weighty stuff. But we have a song that is a guy talking about his hangover in Cola-Wodka. Yep. Then we get a song like the ever popular Eisdame which translates as "Ice-cream Lady". I'm taking it to mean neighborhood lady-of-the-night from the sexual innuendo of the lyrics. And that works in a weird way since they utilize bass lines and riffs from Justin Timberlake's SexyBack as motifs throughout the song. Whereas, Der Blaue Planet seems like a nice ode to Mother Nature, when in fact, it's almost like a rally song for Greenpeace. With the earth dancing with itself in fever and there not being a God to save the planet. Cool, but confusing.

Heute wie neu seems a bit long in the tooth for the average a cappella listener. Subconsciously, 16 tracks by a single artist can appear a bit overwhelming even though in this instance the total disc clocks in at under an hour. I often got bored listening to the middle tracks, not because they were bad songs, it just felt like a lot of music to digest in a single sitting.

(Insight into my process and foibles: I have to listen to albums from start to finish, I'm not of the "single song age". So, I will listen to the whole album multiple times to get an overall impression of the artist and then listen to tracks or passages for particulars.)

I'm a fan of muSix and I'm really glad they have released another full length. As a recording, this is definitely a step above Everything We Want even without any breakout hits for me like Delicate, Canned Heat or Freisein.

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