Preview: Klaus Johann Grobe at For Noise

© Paléo / Boris Soula

© Paléo / Boris Soula

I can’t pay a bigger compliment to Klaus Johann Grobe than to say they make me want to learn German (I’m actually looking at courses in London now). For the moment I freely sing along to their album Im Sinne der Zeit not knowing what on earth I’m saying. When I got the CD I played it every morning, over and over, because it made me so happy.

A minor-key world of melancholy and sensuality

My interest in KJG was immediate. I was due to see them at the Great Escape festival in Brighton in May and so I did some research on YouTube (of course). I found a live version of ‘Traumhaft’ and the very first chords of Moog/Farfisa synths pricked up my ears – the sound was so dandy, almost comical, and yet honest and soulful. The vocals seemed to dwell in a minor-key world of melancholy and sensuality, entwined with a thread of quiet optimism. It sounded nostalgic for DIY culture and a time of simplicity yet was progressive and fresh.

© Paléo / Boris Soula

© Paléo / Boris Soula

The irresistible synth sensibility of Sevi

Their show confirmed me as a fan and I literally barged people out of the way so I could be near the front (I avoided the very front row as I was aware my stalker-grin might scare the band). It was the irresistible synth sensibility of Sevi Landolt that drew me to them, but the equally genuine and clever rhythm section of Daniel Bachmann on drums and Stephan Brunner on bass (for the live shows) made this trio greater than the sum of its parts. I cornered their manager (who happens to be a great guy from Liverpool), gushed about how much I liked them and got a CD – then I gushed about how much I loved the CD cover. My gushing hasn’t stopped.

A serious depth of musical knowledge

On the album, tracks such as ‘Koffer’ give a sense of The Doors metamorphosing into The Jam via Herb Alpert. There are wafts of garage band, psychedelia and post-punk outfits like Howard Devoto’s sharp and lyrical, Magazine. Sevi throws us scraps of groove that the keyboard King, Jimmy Smith, would even nod his head to. You sense there is a serious depth of musical knowledge that underpins their unique ideas, but they draw on influences without being derivative.

KlausJohannGrobeThese guys aren’t afraid of an easy listening sway

‘Les Grecks’ still makes me chuckle as it wafts in memories of Peter Fenn’s music for the TV quiz show, ‘Sale of the Century’. These guys aren’t afraid of an easy listening sway or blowing an unashamedly romantic mist onto tracks like ‘Vergangenes’. If they keep their timing, simplicity and never try to be anything except genuine, I’m sure I will stay hooked. In fact I’m coming all the way to Switzerland to see them play the For Noise Festival in Pully on Thursday 20 August (I’ll be near the front with a big stalker-grin on my face…).

20.08. For Noise, Pully (CH)
21.08. C/o Pop, Köln (GER)
22.08. Dockville, Hamburg (GER)
09.09. Daba Daba, San Sebastian (ESP)
10.09. Moby Dick, Madrid (ESP)
11.09. Psych Fest, Zaragoza (ESP)
12.09. Sala Apolo, Barcelona (ESP)

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