Golden Diskó Ship (Berlin’s Theresa Stroetges) may have set out to make an album about climate change, but in the process has also inadvertently solved the pandemic problem. The lead video for “Wildly Floral, Slightly Damp” features Wiebke Frerichs in a full latex bodysuit, dancing as if she didn’t have a care in the world. And why would she? She can touch whatever she wants, hose off the suit and be perfectly safe. (Low end suits run about $25/23€, high end $200/185€). The video is a perfect expression of Stroetges’ attitude: pay attention to the problems of the world, try to address them, but don’t forget to stay optimistic (and dance!). This mindset has endeared her to listeners over the past decade, culminating in perhaps the happiest track ever written about a floating garbage island (“Pacific Trash Vortex”).
There’s always been a playful side to Stroetges, as demonstrated in a press photo that portrayed her barfing tiny flamingos. This side continues as the video’s opening sequence seems to display cheese wedges in an air machine. At this point, viewers are happy to hear whatever the artist would like to share, even dangerous truths. Wait, did she just sing about Gold Coast erosions and icebergs? That’s like slipping veggies into a child’s jello! The track also contains a collaboration with percussionist Dripta Samajder. Having begun in bands, Stroetges is rediscovering the joy of shared endeavors.
Subsequent single “Clouds of Neon Limelight” sports a different palette of visuals and a “People Are People”-esque beat. At first, there are no words, and one has to figure out what all the flying letters are about; until one realizes they are spelling “unstoppable desire for destruction.” The lyrics don’t appear until three minutes in. “Very distant future generations might dig this up, a tunnel full of radioactive waste.” Already this is the second track to reference the future. The words begin to overlap and blur as they race across the screen, perhaps a metaphor for political argument or the inability to see the forest for the trees. The closing three minutes, like the opening three, are primarily instrumental. As the chimed ending returns to the beginning, we realize we’ve been looking at pollution the entire time.
A second guest, saxophonist Sophia Trollmann, makes “Ortolan” an experience of sonic warmth. That is, until one remembers that an ortolan is a delicate bunting eaten by the 1%, considered “France’s cruelest food” due to the manner in which the songbird is force-fed to fatten it up, drowned in brandy and digested whole. For those who may be wondering, Araceae refers to a species of flowering plant, a much more benign image. But wait! Certain members of the species exude a “rotten flesh” scent in order to attract pollinating flies. It’s another metaphor! Theresa, you got us again!
“Everything is so shaky now,” Stroetges sings in “Limping Over the Prairies.” And this was before the current crisis. The coronavirus has only exposed and exacerbated conditions that already existed: social inequality, corporate greed, cracks in the health care system, insular governments, xenophobia, rampant pollution and more. We might consider Stroetges a prophet, but she’s only highlighted information already in the public realm. The difference ~ and the reason we admire her ~ is that she’s using her prodigious gifts to call out those in power, to rally others to action, and most of all, to channel her anger into hope: a rare ability that just may save the world. (Richard Allen)