I think it’s a first – at least to my knowledge. A band introduces not only it’s debut CD but also a new name on the same evening. Reigning Toys 2Masters winners Millennia certainly made an impact at the RPZ Centre in Bad Godesberg to introduce their very first release ‘Relations’ to a capacity crowd. The impact started before a note was played as a banner was unfurled behind the drumkit proclaiming the new name Letlowe.
The band name confusion started even before the former Millennia got in on the act. “I think you’ll like Oh Sleep”a smiling Tom Englert said just before the start. So why was I staring five minutes later at Florian (Flo) Sczesny who I’d previously seen at the Stadtmusic Tag in the City Centre before Bromo’s set? and where did the cd’s outside on the merch table with the name ‘Felan’s Heart’ on fit in? if at all. It seems that Mr Sczesny is a past master of name changes. Oh Sleep though turned out to be a little too close to the mark as a description of the set.
The set, and indeed the sound, seemed much like the solo spot I caught a few weeks back except for the incessant rain. Flo’s music is something of a two edged sword. Thoughtful (english) lyrics to a plaintive, mid-tempo acoustic guitar accompaniment. Rather like a box of your favourite chocolates, you savor the first one, two, three but gradually find yourself quite full enough and wanting a break from the hazelnut caramels, Maybe try a Turkish Delight instead. Unlike that chocolate box though you couldn’t put the lid on Flo for a few minutes and all the chocolates, were Hazelnut Caramels. Flo himself noted that the talkers in the background actually seemed to stop when he stopped singing, only to start again when he resumed. Don’t misunderstand me, the guy is good, I liked Flo’s style enough to buy the CD, but at home I can listen in bite-size chunks. Nice songs, well played. A change in tempo would do wonders though to make a good singer/songwriter an even better one.
Break time, and the curious unfurling of the earlier mentioned ‘Letlowe’ banner. ‘Letlowe’? it transpires the name was inspired by grafitti spotted by the band on a filming trip around Howard Castle in York (Home of Brideshead Revisited for all you costume drama buffs). It was a relief to find this out. I’d toyed with it being the initials of the band members, except that there are only five of them.
The new music turned out to be as creative as the new name. The hard hitting rock sound that fans know and love was a familiar staple of much of the show, but the real draw of course was the new material.
New disc ‘Relations’ is a part of the band’s prize for winning Toys 2Masters. It seems like a great prize, and indeed it is except for the limitations. The disc was actually recorded in the RPZ buildings own Tonstudio Köln/Bonn and was I am pleased to add excellently produced by one Sebastian Eichmeier, with a clean but rich sound. The limitation was the five days of recording time, and the resultant offerings playing time of under fifteen minutes. For the most part though they are minutes well spent. A crisp version of the 70’s Rock sound is the result when things are at their best. This is no bad thing as the opener ‘Small Town’ shows. The track is a very good cross example of what Millennia/Letlowe are all about musically. There’s a Soft Cell style synth sound swirling around on top of an early 80’s riff straight out of the U2 music book (Fabian Jehnen certainly has the edge that the edge has – if you know what I mean).
‘Catastrophe’ is a good pop song, again in the Soft Cell synth vein that’s not my thing, I rather like the lyrics though “Falling for you. One day I’ll be falling with you” Something I would have heard at the disco in the mid-eighties except I didn’t go to discos then because I didn’t like the music. It’s well played, well sung and less than three minutes all of which I am happy with. The eighties were not a happy time for Rock Music.
Track three ‘Remaining Silence’ sounds a whole lot more interesting. Very much more modern Rock with some super restrained guitar in the background from Fabian Jehnen. Tip-top vocal performance again by Mr Schröder. Bass and drums are tight on the beat and the whole song is topped of with a beautiful bit of soloing again by Jehnen with a touch of Lizzy’s ‘Still in Love with You‘ and a dash of Prog-rock bravado to close. More like this please gentlemen.
And ‘Remaining Silence’ would have remained my favourite track except that the closing ‘Whisper’ grabs attention like a long lost out-take from Ckapton’s ‘Layla’ phase. This was the best track by a country mile for me on the RPZ Stage, A track that really sounds like one a band would still be playing as one of it’s best, even after ten albums. If there are more like this coming then gentlemen, please get a crowd funding campaign underway ASAP and get back in the studio to make a whole album.
Concert wise, this was certainly a triumphant evening of music considering this band didn’t exist two years ago. At it’s best a triumphant CD for lovers of unpretentious 70’s style Rock with a modern edge. A lot has happened for Alassio Schröder, Fabian Jehnen, Rene Billotin, Tom Englert and Yannik Bauer in the last 12 months. Schröder’s voice and Jehnen’s guitar suggest we are in for some enjoyable local music in the next few years. This is a band clearly, as bassist Tom Englert pointed out to me, still evolving it’s sound. It may be that deciding which path to go down will be a hard one. My favourites are the 70’s rock inspired songs here, and as someone who was listening to music in both eras I hope the 80’s synth sound remains back in the eighties. Anyway, get that crowdfunding thing going guys – catch the vibe while it’s hot.
Get the new disc HERE