I just have to admit: I like to listen to very few kinds of jazz, but I am absolutely not in the genre. Thus, even though I receive quite a lot of jazz new releases, I typically do not allow for any of them on Flyctory.com. For this 16th July 2021 release, I just had to make an exception. The reason is the artist: Helge Schneider is likely one of the most multi-talented – und underrated – musicians in Germany. His new album is called Die Reaktion – The Last Jazz Vol. II.
Helge Schneider – About The Artist
Helge Schneider is a multi-talented German entertainer. His humorous talent, which he expressed in books, movies and songs, is very often in focus when people think of him – but he is also a very talented jazz musician and even doing paitings. He was born on 30th August 1955 in Mülheim / Ruhr, Northeast of Dusseldorf. As a musician, he started with the 1975 album published as the Helge Schneider Trio. Twelve years later, he released The Last Jazz. His fourth album Es gibt Reis, Baby (“There is rice, baby”) was his musical breakthrough. Driven by the single Katzeklo (“Cat toilet”) and other songs, the album became a golden record. Even though his albums had some popularity, he only had one Top 10 album in Germany: in 2013, Sommer, Sonne, Kaktus (“Summer, Sun, Cactus”) even topped the board. However, seven of his thirteen studio albums went Top 25 in his home country.
He also wrote scripts and recorded movies, which typically over-characterize typical social behavior. The 1993 Texas – Doc Snyder hält die Welt in Atem was done line a Western movie, while one year later, 00 Schneider – Jagd auf Nihil Baxter was more in style of an agent movie. He also played Adolf Hitler in the Parody Mein Führer.
Helge Schneider – Die Reaktion – The Last Jazz Vol. II – Track by Track
The 22 track album lasts 80 minutes.
1. Das alte Klavier
Mein Name ist Schneider – kann man auf diesem alten Klavier hier mal spielen? These are are the first words you have in the album – and after that Helge shows in a 95 second piano intro that he is an amazing multi-instrumentalist (here on the keys). Oh, by the way, these words simply mean “My name is Schneider, may I play on this old piano?”
2. Der Pabst
I initially expected this song to be about a certain kind of sink, which is used in place where many people throw up. But Der Pabst is about the pope – even though you typically write it as “Papst” in German. A song in the typical Helge Schneider style, in which he reflects that the pope cannot enjoy life as he is so popular and everybody recognizes him. The key instrument here is the guitar, which leads to a touch of folk.
3. Astral Houdini
Astral Houdini is a very jazzy song. The key instruments are the piano and the saxophone – which Schneider of course both interprets in the wonderful Helge-style: sometimes surprising and not too mainstream-ish, but always skilled.
4. Mord ist ihr Hobby, das singendes Pferd
If you would translate the title literally, it would me “Murder is her hobby, the singing horse” (with a grammar mistake in the German original). The song is a piano variation, in which Schneider also occurs on the microphone, but sometimes just with non-lyric noises and sometimes as he is whistling. Five minutes of very fine keys entertainment.
The Großstatgemecker is a classic jazz trio recording. During the whole album, Helge Schneider is joined by Mash Temme on the drums and Kai Kanthak on the bass. There also sax and piano sounds in this track, though. A characteristic Helge Schneider improvisation, even though I have to say that this one is just too Helge… aka weird… to me.
Several tracks of the album have a strong blues influence – the Railroadblues comes with that magical vibe, for example. I really enjoy to listen to this one, which is again a piano song.
7. Mann ohne Gesicht
After a couple of instrumental tracks, the Mann ohne Gesicht (“Man Without Face”) is coming with vocals. Cool bass vibes. The story of the song is a bit weird – the man without face is finding a face in a parcel and is now having one. Typical way of Helge Schneider storytelling.
8. Die Reaktion
If you mix garage rock sounds like strongly distorted guitars with jazz and a touch of blues… If you think nobody would do stuff like that, than you are not into the music of Helge Schneider for sure. But Helge is a genius and can do things like this – and actually, the song is one of my favorites on the album.
After I tried to introduce you to the sound of Die Reaktion in words, you might no longer be surprised that there is a “Cucumber blues” as the following track. A nice piano melody with percussion and some guitar scrums. To me, the song is one of the least catching and present tracks.
10. Bluebird Flying In The Sky
The tenth tracks is a classic jazz sound. It comes with a nice groove, the sax is the the lead melodic instrument, piano and drums are other main instruments. I feel that the song is a rather good listen – and as I am not that much into jazz, these five minutes are likely really good ones.
11. Spinett (am Strand)
Spinett (am Strand) is really a spinet song, which is is describing the scenes happening around Helge Schneider at the beach. I first wanted to give some example for the hilarious lyrics of this track – but finally, it is about the combination of the pure lyrics and the way Helge tells the story which leads to an amazing listen. A song which makes me laugh from the very beginning. Helge Schneider at his best!
The “Moonshine Elise”, a variation of Beethoven’s Für Elise and his Mondscheinsonate is definitely one of the most special songs on the album. I don’t tell you to much – he released it already. Enjoy the video!
13. Interstellare Begegnung
Does this track really takes us into space? At least we are having an “Interstellar Encounter”, according to the title. One of these songs, in which Helge Schneider is just doing variations and plays his style. Sometimes, this leads to chaos. Like here.
14. I’m Beginning To See The Light
The fourteenth track is another jazz-blues crossover, in which Helge just uses his voice without vocals. Not as good as the other tracks of this kinds on the album, I feel.
15. The Tadd Walk (feat. Charlie The Flash)
It feels a bit like Helge is in his zone now – and also this single release is a typical way how Helge Schneider is vamping jazz sounds. Amazing instrumental performance, even though the song is beyond the edge of music I can relate to.
16. Les Baguettes
Helge Schneider is philosophizing musically about France and is mixing several quite characteristically-feeling sounds of Germany’s neighbor country to this three minute track. A song, which initially confused me, but the more I got into it, the more I saw the great musical work in it.
17. Straight And Hyde
A short variation on the piano. Not too jazzy, not too blues-ish – almost feeling like classical music.
18. Silver Hammond Dreams
A quick Hammond organ song. I feel that the song unfortunately feels a bit too hidden in this album. Maybe the song which illustrates Helge Schneider excellence as an instrumentalist best.
19. Helge Schneider spielt verschollene Werke von Bach und Händel
“Helge Schneider plays lost works by Bach and Händel” – do I need to say anything more about this five minute song? The title tells it all. I am not sure if the same people, who enjoyed tracks like Spinett (am Strand) will enjoy this one. But finally, this album is also a statement, a proof. This guy is just an amazing musician. Whenever you dear to laugh about Helge Schneider and his music, this is the nineteenth out of twenty-two reasons in here that you are absolutely wrong.
20. Variationen auf Händels verschollene Aufzeichnungen aus Halle an der Saale
The concept of this song is very similar – the quality again is excellent. This time, Helge Schneider plays the “Variations on Händel’s lost scripts from Halle (Saale)”. Beautiful stuff on the piano.
21. Nordic Walking (Hörspiel)
Many Helge Schneider albums come with amazing audio drama. This one (about walking) is just 1:50 minutes. If you don’t speak German, you will unfortunately not be able to smile.
22. Der Stummfilm
The final track is called Der Stummfilm – “Silent Movie”. This song could really be the background of a film of that genre. Very happy, enjoyable sound.
Helge Schneider – Die Reaktion – The Last Jazz Vol. II – Spotify
Here is the album on Spotify:
Helge Schneider – Die Reaktion – The Last Jazz Vol. II – My View
I am really glad that I dared to go on this musical journey with Helge Schneider. Indeed, some tracks are not im my music comfort zone. Some are too weird to me as well. But overall, it is such an amazing statement of musical excellence, I just have to love it – and call it a Top Pick!.
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