EKKOES Stasiland

REVIEW: ‘Stasiland’ – EKKOES

EKKOES – “Stasiland”

by Christopher Smith

After releasing a number of tracks over recent weeks, UK electro-pop group EKKOES have now issued their full twelve-track, third studio album, “Stasiland”, inspired by the book of the same name by Anna Funder. “Utopia” was the introduction to this project as is first up, an upbeat, “Poppiholla” style dance track about Stasi recruit Hagen Koch, who painted the line around Berlin in 1961 where the wall was to be built. “Across The tracks” begins in Depeche Mode style but builds into another synth-high dance number, but with a message about a young girl called Miriam Weber who made an attempt to go over the wall.

The short track “No Personality” is about brain washing and ‘cleansing of the mind’ and before long we’re into the transient “Spezialdisziplin”, a haunting track that deals with The Ministry of State Security’s recruitment process, known as Spezialdisziplin. “Julia” keeps the tone down with this moody, stylised, provoking tracks about a young girl who meets and falls in love with an Italian, something all around her advise her not to do… The ‘cheesy’ “Lipsi Step” is another quickie – it’s less than a minute long – but provides us a brief interlude before “The Black Channel” begins on our screens, a perfect vehicle for propaganda presented by Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler on Germany television for nearly 29 years!

The ‘weird’ and often kooky “Miriam And Charlie” tells the delightful story of two young lovers who are torn apart with tragic consequences. The racey “No Apologies” takes off almost immediately and offers thought on the social system, pollution and exploitation of our natural environment. More thoughtful words from the book are set against the piano solo in “Easterners” while the slow and sublime “The Wall Went Straight Through My Heart” deals with an escape attempt via a tunnel which the Stasi are made aware of and they waited…!

The album closes with “Charlie’s Poem”, a reading from the book, not set to music, but a poignant one and an eerie end to this ‘black’ album. It’s great to hear new music from EKKOES and this is certainly something very different. If you haven’t read the book yet, do so and then maybe again with this album playing in the background. See how it fits so well and works with the many harrowing stories of a time now passed and hopefully one that will never happen again.

“Stasiland” is available now in various bundles from EKKOES’ BANDCAMP page.

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