Like a puppy in his musical library, Schlammpeitziger (an actual fish that lives in muddy water) takes the little stage at ACUD. Snappily dressed in a tailor-made suit that appeared to be lifted and printed from a musical banquet, he tweaks his various machines and sends us into an upbeat soundscape that feels like it’s simultaneously from the past and the future.
A musical artist and performer in the literal sense, this is so much more interesting to watch than most gigs. The key thing is he doesn’t take himself too seriously, even though there is depth to his performance. He banters with the crowd between songs, he dances in his own way, he wears a range of headgear and he steps on to a proverbial pedestal and narrates his brand of elusive musical poetry under a multicoloured disco spotlight.
This was the first gig on a mini-tour of his new album – Damenbartblick auf Prägnant Hill’ (Bereau B). Each song is accompanied by a backdrop of video that bleeds onto and interacts with body and form. Each works as a stand-alone track but has different themes and seems to come out of his experiential past as something very personal.
His music somehow composes itself well with the beach, with escape, with travel.
The sea features a lot in his imagery – a mystery piece of wood poking out of the water, the endless lulling and chopping of the water, beach-side detritus and it’s juxtaposition with the human form. His music somehow composes itself well with the beach, with escape, with travel. I caught myself closing my eyes and being transported to a deserted island in an ecstatic escape from reality, mincing along the shore with Schlammpeitziger.
Other videos take us through a carnival, the dancers engaging with us eye to eye, breaking the fourth wall and joining the party; and to a more detached and vaguely sinister place – a huge bonfire in an unknown field.
‘I want what you need and you need what I want. I have a bathroom with no hair in it; you have hair but no bathroom…’
Mostly instrumental, when he does use lyrics they are often in English as he steps on to the podium, teasing the ladies with a feather and making us smile with lines like: ‘I want what you need and you need what I want. I have a bathroom with no hair in it; you have hair but no bathroom…’
Sometimes he dons his spectacles and lays out papers over his production desk like he’s planning a trip into his own exotic dimension; punching the CD player with his finger and taking us back or forward in time.
If his music had to have an element, it would surely have to be water.
His music seems to exist on the edgelands, it has a wavy, otherworldly quality that pushes and pulls, floats and flounces around. If his music had to have an element, it would surely have to be water.
When it finished it felt to me like it had only just begun. He had a warm and loving crowd at ACUD, and his music and persona have an engagement that has an untiring quality, an enduring positivity and chirpiness, a bit like a time warp that I, for one, would be perfectly happy being trapped in.
He plays in Hamburg tonight (16th), and Köln on the 24th.