How many bands were born during the pandemic? Our guess is not many, as social distancing kept folks apart. Bucking the trend, cellist Sicker Man and multi-instrumentalist Kiki Bohemia launched a digital series called Cleansing Drones for Locked Down Homes at the very beginning of the lockdown, hoping to provide solace and comfort for the isolated. A few months later, they were joined by Conny Ochs, and the trio was complete. An album was recorded, a virtual concert was held in a cinema, the handmade vinyl sold out in hours and now the full release is hitting the shoppes. It’s encouraging to hear such a success story from a trio that did the opposite of what others were doing, finding new life in collaboration while others were sheltering in place.
The album is enthusiastically diverse, embracing multiple genres. Those entering through the title track (and lead video) may expect an album of all-out jams, but no single track is representative of the whole. In the opening seconds, the spoken words “I’ll go back to the beach, to the riverside” are joined by foghorn bass and storm squall. After this, as shown below, the trio really begins to rock, performing with surprising gusto considering the empty hall. “Stroh zu Gold” is certain to be a highlight of live sets, which seem to be right around the corner. Those who enjoy this piece will likely be equally engaged by “Batdance” (which appears to have little relation to the Prince track, save for its title and catchy bass line). But if one prefers to revisit the rock aspects of the title track rather than the club prospects, the sludgy, doom-distorted “Rip Current” is the direction to go. Just remember to swim parallel to the shore. Too much doom? The acoustic guitar of the intervening “Lavu Santu” may remind some of Led Zeppelin’s stripped-down entries, while the cello conjures “Kashmir.” Enjoying this combination? Head to “Hikikomori”. Want more cello? “Mali:Berlin” is the place to visit, though the tambourine and head-nodding tempo loop back around to “Stroh Zu Gold” and one may feel they are in the musical version of a “choose your own adventure” book.
Amazingly, it all works. The three artists meld their influences into a coherent whole, playing to each of their strengths while entertaining in grand fashion. The near-spontaneous production of the album, recorded in three days, speaks to the trio’s raw talent and promises even greater things to come, now that they are preparing to feed off live energy instead of emojis. (Richard Allen)