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Wechsel Garland - Easy

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Artist: Wechsel Garland

Album: Easy

Label: Karaoke Kalk

Review date: Jan. 25, 2006

Like J. Crew, Wechsel Garland presents his summer jams in the middle of winter. Perhaps he hopes we will bring them with us to the “resort” along with our pineapple-print chinos and bikinis? Easy is made for the beach, and like Daisy Buchanan, it sounds like money.

At first listen, Easy was just that, too easy, in fact; it’s accessible enough for your next dinner party or for the lobby at some luxury chain hotel in Bangkok. But eventually the lounge-tropicalia veneer and high production values crack, and little snippets of various instruments poke out and stick their sharp hooks into one’s ear. Then you’re stuck listening to songs on repeat, just waiting for certain trills and instrumental flourishes to reappear.

Wechsel Garland is the recording name of Jorg Follert, and though ostensibly he is a German “electronic” artist, on Easy, he is accompanied by a band and all the lyrics are in English. The record features real, slightly processed instruments and many voices. Piano, acoustic guitar, and chimes are particularly prominent.

The defined genres that Follert emulates on Easy – tropicalia, trip-hop, and lounge – form a scaffolding for his nuanced instrumental composition. In a different world, he might operate like Bob Pollard and just record snippets of songs instead of whole pieces, but the tropes of established genres are less obtrusive than a lack of structure would be. Thus somewhere in the middle of “Easy,” a stock lounge number, one is seduced by a particular key change and wishes it would never end. This happens on nearly every track, where usually such delicious moments occur only once or so on an album. Such things may seem trivial, but they shouldn’t.

The effect is anticipatory, almost bewildering. One can’t help but skip a few tracks ahead in order to hear a three-second guitar line buried in Follert’s hopelessly awkward voice. The whole process evokes swimming – you’re deep in greeny-blue water looking up at the shattered, refracted light at the surface, propelling yourself upward, and then the anticipated musical flourish arrives like that gasping first breath once you reach the surface.

Yet if Easy is a record of moments – the subtly processed guitar in the bridge of “Walker,” intertwined voices on “ABC to Be” – Wechsel Garland finds whole-song grace when he abandons well-tread genres. “Get Over It,” an instrumental piano-harpsichord duet sans-vocals, is a break-up song, plain as day. And “Mutes,” a repetitive confection featuring female vocals, demands five listens at a time.

By Josie Clowney

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