Category Archives: reviews

New Review of Nikolas Schreck’s ”The Futura Model” EP

Thanks to German music site AFRICAN PAPER for this great  review below of the new Nikolas Schreck EP ”The Futura Model” available from https://epicureanescapism.bandcamp.com/album/the-futura-model  

From Nikolas Schreck, who initially devoted himself to other activities after the end of Radio Werewolf, there have been musical signs of life in recent years. There were concerts in different constellations and with different song selections as well as an accomplished album with his band Kingdom of Heaven. There has been talk of a solo work for some time now, and on the last Epicurean Escapism Festival and its compilation there was already a song with “Lord Sutekh’s Dream” as a foretaste. The EP “The Futura Model” has now released another piece in three versions.

Those who only know Schreck from Radio Werewolf may situate the musician in the field of tension between Death Rock and a dark, proclaiming form of ritual music. This is undoubtedly a component of Schreck’s style repertoire, albeit a somewhat constricting focus on specific periods in his past. Already in Kingdom of Heaven you could get an impression of Schreck’s diverse interests across the history of classical pop culture: prog rock and gospel, rhythm and blues and classic crooner entertainment, superheroes and dubious fishers of human souls, and above all the Eternal Feminine in the mirror of different myths.

Some of this mixture is also connected to “The Futura Model”, even if there are clear differences in terms of sound: No Schreck song of the past ever grooved this much. That’s probably because with Heathen Rae, a real drummer is on board, and the awesome beats, the repetitive bass lines, the cool, scifi-like synths, and Schreck‘s vocals all sound they were made for each other. Thanks to electronic processing, the sound is less organic than on the last concerts, but this piece of Psych Pop gets a nerdy-cool, retro-futuristic touch.

Again, the archetype of the female, who in all her seductive power as a femme fatale, comes to life – but without the masked hatred of women usual for this myth. On the contrary: the seductress’s erotic charisma transforms the hero into a better version of himself: A beautiful heroine from a distant galaxy ensnares the singer with the help of his favorite medium, the radio, and plays him the latest hits from the planet Aldebaran. But after the successful seduction instead of taking him on board away from too many people on Earth, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” leaves the man languishing. But whoever this lyrical self is – an infatuated superhero or an intergalactic man of feeling – somehow the short fatal flirtation seems to have inspired him, indeed to have literally transformed him. Otherwise, “The Futura Model” would not be so cheerful and groovy, and even the line “My rocket rises ever higher”, which would certainly have pleased the old Freud, sounds anything but depressed.

The only downer is that the first two of the three versions are pretty similar. In the “Parallel Universe Version” there are a few extra futuristic gadgets and a greater overall tendency for wide, reverberant spaces, but these are small variations, and I still give preference to the slightly richer original. The “Late Night Supernova Version”, on the other hand, is less rock, more soundscape with a lounge feeling, more synthetic and playful, and thus rich in nice ideas.

If you appreciate the Schreck-typical mix, you should be hooked by the song and excitedly anticipate the upcoming album – considering how different “The Futura Model” and the complex and meditatively spun “Lord Sutekh’s Dream” are. In any case, you can look forward to a certain similar bandwidth. Similar to Kingdom of Heaven, the solo works seem to be connected to the rocky original Radio Werewolf of the 80s, soaked in a dash of blues and Americana, which I very much welcome. The regular edition of the 12 ” was published in an edition of 222, an ultra-limited lovers edition contains among other items, a signed poster. (U.S.)”

Original German review here: http://africanpaper.com/2017/11/18/nikolas-schreck-the-futura-model-ep/

Nikolas Schreck WGT 2017 Concert Reviewed By Der schwarze Planet

 

Nikolas Schreck performing at WGT 2017 on 2 June 2017. Photo by Shan Dark, Der schwarze Planet.
Nikolas Schreck and his band (Heathen Rae on drums, Ohnesorg on bass, FTDrop on Keyboards) performing at WGT 2017 on 2 June 2017. Photo by Shan Dark, Der schwarze Planet.

To read original German article, please see  http://der-schwarze-planet.de/mein-schreckliches-wgt-2017/

Nikolas and his band's performance one month ago today was singled out as one of the ''Best Concerts at WGT 2017'' by Shan Dark of DER SCHWARZE PLANET in her article ''Mein SCHRECKliches WGT 2017''. For those who don't read German, we translated some excerpts into English for you:  

''On Friday, a long-awaited concert: Nikolas Schreck, the former founder and singer of the band Radio Werewolf (1984-92). I stumbled over Radio Werewolf's genius piece "Buried Alive" about 10 years ago and then got stuck on the band. In 2015, Zeena Schreck had already performed at the WGT with a "Tantric Ritual Performance" ... Now, then, Nikolas Schreck. I really did not expect to see him or Radio Werewolf songs live on stage. It was like a resurrection! I THANK the WGT Organizing Team for booking him. Nikolas Schreck joked onstage that he thought after the booking at the WGT, the abbreviation stood for "World Golfing Tournament". Somehow I like Nikolas's humor! Nikolas Schreck, a Buddhist since the end of the 1990s, stood barefoot on the stage in an I-do-not-what-to-call-it Buddhist (?) robe. It was a refreshingly different appearance. Just like the concert, which covered a musically very wide range from old Radio Werewolf pieces (very Goth!) to orientally influenced and ritually atmospheric pieces to a song which seems to me almost a Harlem Blues accompanied on the electric piano. Along with, Nikolas's magic gestures, it was simply never boring to watch him. And I think that every one of his gestures, every pointed finger or hand position was deliberate … It's very unusual and honestly said also somewhat creepy how in this manner he ''attracts'' the audience, drawing them in to his spell. Mr. Schreck is a phenomenon with strong charisma that one must somehow be up to. Some songs were from the upcoming album, on which the Nikolas Schreck band is currently working. Nikolas has three very good musicians at the start, I was particularly impressed by Drummer & Percussionist Heathen Rae - really very cool performance! Last but not least: I thank Nikolas for the performance of "Buried Alive" live - it made my day! This old piece was so authentic, with gothic-theatrical gestures as it was done at the time. ... I am glad that no modified, "modernized" version was played, but everything just as I know and love.  It was a terrific concert - it touched me and made me happy. In its manner and style incomparable with everything else on the WGT 2017 and one of my highlights of this WGT. ... I hope very much that he will be back at WGT with his band soon.''
To read full Report in German 

 

New Review of Kingdom of Heaven’s Album “XXIII”

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: XXIII

“It is an interesting question in itself why there’s so much music in American popular culture containing elements of church music as well as sounds reminiscent of carnival and the circus. Is it really just because both areas have an affinity to organs? Did Hollywood play a vital part in this, as movies often used to present the Sacred in a carnivalesque manner? Or is there something like a secret connection between these heterotopias so different at first glance, where people seek refuge for a moment from their daily grind and indulge in many different illusions – and nonetheless have the chance to learn more about life than in the most fatal of all illusions, namely the functionalized alienation, commonly known as normality? Maybe it’s a coincidence, but this thought, which has crossed my mind more than once when I think about Baby Dee, is even stronger on my mind when I think about Kingdom of Heaven.

God and Devil, doom and salvation, side shows and superheroes, the sublime grandeur of the antique world and shabby love hotels in the juggernaut of LA – these are the things that shape the textual character of Kingdom of Heaven’s debut, and if you know the better-renowned part of the duo, you won’t be surprised about the choice of subject, but will experience more than one deja-vu instead. Kingdom of Heaven was created when Nikolas Schreck, who has made himself a name as a Buddhist meditation teacher in his new Berlin home, contacted his old friend James “Filth” Collord. Collord was bassist in the earliest incarnation of Radio Werewolf, best known for their song “Buried Alive” or their appearance in the movie “Mortuary Academy”. Déjà vu, however, doesn’t mean that the two are on the road to Death Rock again, even though Schreck as lead singer, who always sounds a bit like David Bowie with a gigantic chest, cannot help but start a double-ironic persiflage on this idea. What they revive from their earlier phase is their love for all kinds of sinister trash and the mood of old B-Movies, which we all took so seriously in our teenage days.

Musically, Schreck and Collord dive deep into the realms of American pop culture, and it’s a grim form of what Rhythm and Blues used to be in the 50s and 60s – music which has little in common with contemporary R’n’B – that constitutes a major influence – may others use the term „Prog“ for the mixture of bar-piano, hammond organ and a maybe sometimes a bit too powerful drum section. It’s not only Schreck’s vocals that give the circuslike music a strong touch of liturgy, it’s also the stories that he tells in the songs. Most of the lyrics run along on the fine line between mysticism, pulp and the conviction that everything is just an illusion anyway. Lines like “I dreamt I swam in the river Jordan/A bottle of booze in my hand” from “The Ballad of Lurleen Tyler” sum this up quite well. The ambiguous character of illusions does not only appear in this story of a dubious preacher and girl killer: whilst in “Farewell to the Carousel” the farewell to the beautiful other world of a funfair is mourned, the sci-fi scented song “In Dreamland” urges the listener to wake up from a media-mediated loss of consciousness.

Many pieces revolve around biblical themes or the mystical aspects of the ancient world, or they enjoy the exoticism of a mysterious Orient, which has left its musical traces in “Midnight in Cairo”. But they always do it in the way of moody cock and bull-tales, and one can imagine these stories as a comic, which consistently satirizes the style of the „Watchtower“ of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since romantic love is one of the most beautiful illusions, even a flawless love song doesn’t go missing on the album, and “The World for You” is really a love song of superlatives, where one always wonders whether it is not about worshipping a deity. The song about a love that does not weigh all the wonders of the world, could be a hit from a Broadway musical and in a better world it would be a long runner in all karaoke shows.

In one sentence: pure „Kurzweil“, great fun and sometimes more than that, hopefully soon available on vinyl and also live in all churches and circus arenas of distinction. (U.S.)”

Translated into English from the original German review: http://africanpaper.com/2015/07/25/kingdom-of-heaven-xxiii/

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Kingdom of Heaven's new album XXIII - Cover art by Skot Atha
Kingdom of Heaven’s new album XXIII – Cover art by Skot Atha