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Superpitcher - Here Comes Love

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Artist: Superpitcher

Album: Here Comes Love

Label: Kompakt

Review date: Apr. 13, 2004

Popular scuttlebutt: Superpitcher’s debut album, Here Comes Love, is a minor/major disappointment. There wasn’t much chance it could be otherwise, given the run of singles that Aksel Schaufler has dotted through the Kompakt label discography over the past three years. The modest number of Schaufler’s contributions – a hardful of singles, some compilation appearances and remixes – only helped to amplify the pleasures of his music.

Whether turning his hand to shuffle fever tactics, drowsy pop songs, or linear, muffled techno, Superpitcher inscribes an absolutely peculiar mark into everything he records. This was accurately described by Australian critic Tim Finney as a kind of “fuzzy numbness”; there’s a pensive sigh at the core of every Superpitcher track, and his sonic thumbprint hovers somewhere between sadness and elegance. Here Comes Love does stretch that aesthetic a little thin. The cover of “Fever” is serviceable at best – a misguided moment. (Interestingly, it is here that Schaufler sounds the least like himself, which suggests that for all the pitfalls of continuity, it’s better to have not fallen and hint at a one-track mind, than to fall and remove all traces of doubt.) A version of “Love Me Forever” fares better, with Schaufler’s vocals at their most winning, sighing a lover’s rock caress over ’pitcher-dub.

The album could have done without the cover versions, as they pale in comparison Schaufler’s own songs. Strung together, the themes of the six originals on Here Comes Love – loneliness, the search for happiness and romance, the fallibility of relationships – suggest a vision of ‘love’ that’s about drowning oneself in uncertainty, the strange pleasure of pining for the unattainable, the melancholy of being alone. In “Happiness,” Schaufler’s sole lyric runs “I want happiness / I seek happiness / to cause your happiness / to be your happiness.” It’s sung in a voice that’s just had all of the oxygen crushed out of it, a crumpled and lonely monotone.

Schaufler’s real talent, however, is his attention to detail: the way the bells that etch away at the edges of “People” blossom into a pinstripe threnody just as the song fades away, or the way he pulls the rug out from under your feet in “Sad Boys,” leaving a gaping tear in the song’s fabric, before elegantly placing a third chord into the song’s limpid undertow. Schaufler repeatedly uses this tactic, and by mutating the songs’ structures just before they disappear out of view, he hints at other versions, another song just out of our reach. The pay-off comes with “Even Angels,” where Schaufler extends his hymn to imperfection out to 15 minutes by setting shivery strings in perpetual orbit, watching the light glint off all the edges. He sounds happily self-involved, letting his song meander its way to closure.

Here Comes Love may have been better off being pruned of its covers, the gaps filled with some of the stronger cuts from Schaufler’s singles. But the single-mindedness of much of Here Comes Love is what makes it work so compellingly: the all-encroaching mood of dejection; the human being crumpled by love, caught wistful and waning. Here Comes Love is crepuscular music, all about stasis or slow bloom: a grayscale form of pop music.

By Jon Dale

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