Review: Golden Diskó Ship “Invisible Bonfire”

20 Nov 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

The world of Golden Diskó Ship can be summed up by using the following two terms: krautrock mo-town. Berlin's Theresa Stroetges has busied herself as a "one-girl orchestra" for several years, which has landed her a spot on Berlin's CTM Current program, and earned her recognition from Joachim Irmler, keyboardist of Faust, who released Stroetges' last album on his label Klangbad. For her reveling new full-length, Invisible Bonfire, Stroetges has taken to Zürich's Spezialmaterial, and will release the work on LP and CD November 25th.

Invisible begins with the track "These Thoughts Will Never Take Shape," which is like an intro inside of an intro inside of an intro (if you listening to it enough - the track bears a lot of jammy meandering, so it's like it never fully arrives). The skipping-rocks old school beat commences a familiar and endearing style momentarily met by lovesick, clean lyrics: "you keep changing your mind, but I believe you every time," which kind of also sound like "you keep changing your mind and I will leave you every time." Then suddenly, the lyrics are crunched into ringing distortion, an effect that promises a journey through experimental design and cheerful exploration of pop archetypes. Interchangeability, no-rush-ethics, and fluttering emulations are widely available throughout the album. The title of the opening song alone grants some insight as to how GDS is all about enjoying a thought, love story, or mood that never takes finalized shape; instead, it's all about being present with the journey and watching evolution take place, so much so that, when you arrive at whatever destination, it feels off-putting. Stroetges prefers the company of motion rather than the harsh solidity of a Standort.

"Fake Horse" isn't the only track to bear more eastern rhythmic work. Further into the album, "Little Stream" is a non-lyrical, ciruclar anthem, bolstered by interesting and accessible layers. "Movie Theatre" is a somewhat belligerent, boxy track, one that reminds me of early Désormais or aMute. It puts forth a more solemn mood with some super subtle ambience. As the determined, taking-control-back beat enters, so do the cartoony effects on top of Stroetges' mantra. The song fades out in a most exhausted, ready-to-sleep way, then "Snowflake Helicopter" begins, which is the most krautrockish song on the album. The guitar work is masterful and sweet. The swirling whistles and whimsical melody stimulate a childlike part of the imagination, and I can envision a little girl in the back of the car cheering this selection on and later having a memory of it being her favorite song that her parents played for her when she was young. I was sure that I'd heard this track before, but I can't place it: I feel like I might've heard it played by a DJ once upon a time at O'Tannenbaum on Sonnenallee, or maybe my friend Soren, who personally introduced me to Stroetges, played it for me, narrating, "this is Theresa's new music." No matter the factual truth, this song has that archetypal, cozy quality, that sweet familiarity. GDS is indeed very genial music, even if impressively experimental and at times deliberately twisted.

"New Year/Under The Wave" is a dualistic piece, one festooned with seaside greyness and damp winds. The unclassifiable bird-like sound makes me think of a cinematic scene where a tired and contemplative young adult saunters around an abandoned carousel. As the nude down beat takes prominence, so does another mantra, indiscernible, and what is actually being said doesn't matter. The atmosphere and frigidness of this song work to make it my personal favorite on the album; however, it still contains some kind of amount of sweetness. Perhaps that is the vital ingredient to what sets GDS' sound aside as unique: experimental, ruthless, overcast, sweet.

Stroetges applies sweet, comfortable electric guitar to all of her tracks; further, she harnesses a simple yet compelling lyrical style that is repetitive, alliterative, and musically refraining: every song is a grey summer sunset score. The guitar progressions serve as main chorus melodies in the flavor of driving-down-the-highway krautrock. The unadulterated ingredients are ring distortion, classic electric guitar, at least one non-musical sample, and mo-town mantras. The perfect example of this claim can be found among the final moments of the album, where, after guitar and vocals fade away, we hear spinning fuzz and an antique voice talking about lack of interest in dying, a certain disinclination rather than fear of arriving at the final destination. Therewith, the album terminates.

Keep your eyes out for GDS performances at CTM's Berlin Current, Ausland, and on Boiler Room. Invisible Bonfire is out November 25h on Spezialmaterial.