Send me your track


Thomas Fehlmann - Gute Luft OST




Fehlmann has had a long and illustrious career in electronic music. He has been active since the early 1980s, when he co-founded the German New Wave group Palais Schaumberg. And over the years he has excelled in creating cerebral electronica. This can be seen through his more recent work on the Kompakt label and his older collaborations with the Orb and Juan Atkins. “Gute Luft,” the most recent addition to Fehlmann’s repertoire, was produced as a musical soundtrack for the world’s longest documentary, 24h Berlin.  

Despite my admiration for Fehlmann, I approached “Gute Luft” with a dose of skepticism. After all, it is always difficult to assess music not originally conceived as a standalone work. Music that works well as part of a broader cinematographic score often seems dry and uninspired when listened to without its attendant images. And for me, the mere fact of knowing I am listening to a soundtrack generally makes me lower my expectations.    

But “Gute Luft” actually works quite well as a standalone album. Many of the tracks highlight the minimalist musical feel for which Fehlmann is well known and loved. The album is at its best when it nears the realm of dub techno, creating throbbing beats and a sense of incessant motion. “Schwerelos,” for instance, epitomizes this sense of movement. Its layered texture, warm synths, shifting drum programming and bouncy bass generate a feeling of traveling or a night out in the town. “Permanent Touch” and “Fluss Im Wasser” create a similar sense of perpetual motion, and both are driven by a gorgeous interaction among vibrant bass lines and punchy synths. The album’s ambient-influenced sequences are no less dramatic. “Von Oben” and “Im Uberlick” for instance, both begin as a dream-like ambient piece, with dronescapes that slowly morph into minimalist techno pieces.   

Not all of the tracks on “Gute Luft,” however, fit together in an organic manner. Fehlmann incorporated diverse elements—from Detroit techno, to ambient, to an ethereal dub and tech-house—that lack an overall sense of uniformity. Further, not all of the tracks work as well. “Falling Into Your Eyes” and “Berliner Luftikus,” for instance, feel like they are intended as part of a cinematic score, and do not do justice to the rest of the album.  

As such, “Gute Luft” has its pluses and minuses. At its best, the album features fresh ideas and moments of genuine beauty. The album, however, suffers from a few mediocre tracks and does not necessarily fit together as an organic whole. But this is to be expected from an album originally imagined to accompany a documentary. In all, “Gute Luft” is a very nice album that deserves a good listen. Thomas Fehlmann, it seems, is still on top of his game.  

Jeremy Yellen

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