Wilkommen und Guten Tag! Wie gehts? Alles klar? Since we are on the topic recently of German bands I was inspired to stick with the setting and continue on with bands from Deutschland and this time one that doesn’t sing in English! “Traumhaus” (Dream House), evolving out of band called “Zweeback” in the early/mid 90’s to become a headstrong German Neo-Prog band of the 21st Century. Unlike the majority of bands from non-English speaking countries Traumhaus prefers to sing in their native tongue which is a treat in the world of Prog as a lot of bands will sing in English to gain more attention to their music since it is one of the predominant languages going but they stuck to their guns and sing in German.
Germany has always been a threshold for bands to either make it or break it. Even for English groups like The Beatles, Black Sabbath and many other bands did their tours of duty in the land that is all good and German, mostly in the Reeperbahn in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg. Also the redlight district it had the most clubs for up and coming bands as well as local talent that made their way there from around the country to get their “BIG” break or go home trying. Not sure what city Traumhaus originated in but it really matters not when you listen to them. This four piece ranges from all kinds of influences in to their mixing bowl of Prog ingredients to create a band that not only has the ability to write both long and short tracks but also to have a very dark and vibrancy to their music. They incorporate: vocals/keyboards/synths- Alexander Weyland, guitars (acoustic and electric) – Tobias Hampl, bass – Till Ottinger and drums – Ray Gattner to execute a precision controlled band with determination and endurance to keep going. Their first full length self-titled album from 2001 is eight tracks of both bright creativity and depth with enough room to spare for some powerful vocals along with brilliant musicianship.
The album opens up “Aufwarts“(Upward) a bright fast paced tune that doesn’t have a feel to any decade to it, very much like how songs from The Alan Parsons Project has and it is certainly an eye opener for the first track and a great driving tune as well. With no warning it kicks off in to high gear right form the get go and doesn’t stop till it’s over. A powerful song to be the first and a great way to get your attention; Bright keyboards, quick time paced drums, virile guitar work and a vocal that stays mid range and doubles up in spots creating a mellow harmony effect. My German isn’t that good so translating the lyrics just isn’t happening, I speak it better than translating it, sorry. The next track is their longest and the band spares no expense is making it an epic at 17:43 minutes long; “Ausgeliefert“(Delivered).
This song has everything in it from the humble faint beginning with the keyboard intro to heavier guitars and double kick bass drumming giving it that extra bit of oomph to beef it up that much more giving it epic standards. Gutsy move putting it as track two and not nearer to the end of the album as a build up to the biggest song motif but as a second song it’s good placement giving you the heavy weight ahead of time and not feel like a drag out to the death end of the album track because let’s face it, sometimes you don’t want the longest most involved song at the end because it may weight too much on your auditory experience and you may not put the album back on or skip that song when listening to the album in your car or at home. The timbre of the song has a darker presence to it than it’s vibrant predecessor track. Luring you in to the world that is Traumhaus not telling you whether it will be pleasant or take you to your doom. Given the title of the song you may be delivered to some deep below the ground lair or that you have been delivered from a fate worse than you thought. The song goes through some ups and downs, loud and heavy to quiet and serene passages to finally finish off with a distorted fade away. Fills the Prog order perfectly. Next up is “Zu Spat“(Too Late) is a great throwback to the late seventies Prog giants with the slow intro, flange effect on the guitar, swaying keyboard and organ sounds, drums shuffle throughout and do a gallivant pattern as they provide a follow up to the keys and guitar that take the lead. This song like many others utilizes the keyboards as a lead instrument which was a big facet for bands like Yes, Van Der Graf Generator and Genesis in the early to mid 70’s and the vocals are presented in a softer tone to fill in the song like good icing.
“Peter und der Wolf“, pretty self explanatory title here and a straight forward hard knock at good instrumental Prog. A very 80’s intro synth jingle brings the bass in as a follow up with the guitar and drums accenting nicely before it jumps in to its main riff. It jumps and pounces like a large cat throughout the track giving it a good head nodding and foot tapping aspect to it, another good driving song or if you need a good track to add to your iPod playlist when in the throes of driving Burnout Revenge on PlayStation! “Wandler“(Converter) follows up from where Peter and the Wolf left you off with a ballad that relaxes you enough to remind you that Prog bands are really good at doing lengthier ballads where they swirl and dance around with tempo changes creating a good feel to them and again the synth lead reverts back to their 70’s influences which Traumhaus has no problems paying homage to who they like. A gig in 2011 at the 14. Eclipse Festival, Colos Saal in Aschaffenburg, West Germany saw the band come back for an encore of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and did it fairly well considering the dual English vocals between Gilmour and Waters so the band managed to pull it off quite nicely. Subsequent shows have seen the band focus more of their attention and talent on their own music and staying true to form with keeping lyrics all in German and deepening their musicianship in to the depths of the Prog world. “Das Neue“(The New) clips in with tight guitar and soaring synth flare and whisks away with a stout German vocal as the song compliments with an equally corpulent backing track. One of the shorter tracks but not to be underestimated at all, a faster paced song with some music starts and stops while vocals carry over seeing it all through.
“Navanita“, another fine instrumental with no translation leaving one to assume that it’s a girl’s name? Either way they do swoon this track with all the right tonal inflections and woo you with the intensity of being ‘Das Gut Deutsch Prog Jungen’ who know how to swing it without going overboard but staying really close to the edge and peering over REALLY far without falling. Another add to the PlayStation playlist for fast driving games! Sorry guys but when you write songs like that one can’t help but burnout one’s revenge in a video game sometimes! The album finishes off with, “Am Abgrund“(In The Abyss…) that takes you back to a Gentle Giant moment with the harmonizing vocals and offbeat way they sing and how the music jumps in and seems to be just off kilter from the singing and the madrigal feel to the tones played, a great way to close the album out with good harmonies and another upbeat song, at least musically. This band albeit singing in German doesn’t make me want to rush out and translate all their lyrics because I enjoy their music for what it is, Prog and if you enjoy it for what it is, does it really matter what they are singing about? Pretty safe to say it’s not about kicking old grannies or shaving puppies so we’re good.
Yes absolutely the Friars do smile upon thee Traumhaus and you are most welcomed in to the Halls with open arms. This album is a great start to the band’s canon and should be taken in as wonderful introduction to Neo-German-Progressive Music as we have seen the power and performance of the Old Guard with; Triumvirat, Tangerine Dream, Kraan, NEU!, Eiliff and Kollecktiv and the Newer German Prog bands with Traumhaus like; Blind Ego and RPWL who have worked their way up form nothing as well becomming great Prog bands themselves but they fall in to the classic German method of singing in English.
“Geniessen Sie diese Band und ihre Musik und halten Prog lebendig”