No ordinary album from no ordinary artist. Dominik Eulberg is a German electronic act with a part-time job on a nature reserve who also leads guided bird-walking tours. On this new release he manages to combine his passions - in association with German nature magazine NABU he has selected the 11 natural wonders of the world, and written a track for each. Although themed in this way the music is quite varied - influences and sounds range from 'Belfast'-era Orbital to last year's Pantha du Prince album.
'Taeuschungs-Blume' starts the album in a reflective mood. Brief dialogue samples that leave you wondering what the person was going to say, over a simple beat and a tune that evokes dusk falling - it's a gentle introduction to the album. 'Echomaus' is next and is more of a beat-driven piece, with rythmic keyboards and a nice breakdown in the middle where you can imagine pilled-up ravers in the early days of E holding their hands aloft.
'Das Neunauge' (The Lamprey) is for me the only piece of filler on the album - nothing much seems to happen over the course of its 5 1/2 minutes. However, it is more than compensated for by 'Teddy Tausendtod'. This is the first track I heard off this album (on the Tom Ravenscroft show back in March) - it builds slowly into a hypnotic and repeitive melody that's completely absorbing.
You know how sometimes when you first hear a track it reminds you of something else, and once you've done that you can't forget it? That's how 'Islandmuschel 400' is for me, the first time I heard it I immediately thought of 'Behind The Wheel' by Depeche Mode and now I can't stop thinking about it, so much so that in my head I end up singing the Mode's words over Eulberg's tune.
The album is now really in its stride, with 'Die 3 Millionen Musketiere' the most Orbital like, a real hedonistic track. 'H2O' is less ravey and more cerebral at the start, but soon builds into another great rythmic track. 'Der Tanz der Gluehwuermchen' (The Dance of the Fireflies) keeps up the pace with another Orbital-esque tune full of light and movement, just like the fireflies themselves.
'Aeronaut' is where the comedown starts to kick in, as the tempo drops with some lush melodies. 'Wenn es Perlen Regnet' (If it's Raining Pearls) is a gentle hymn to the beauty of nature, a bit more up-tempo perhaps but certainly not a four-to-the-floor banger. The keyboards have a twinkly feel to them which fits beautifully into the final track 'Metamorphose'. This has a music-box feel to it, a beautiful and delicate melody that brings the album to a close on a reflective note, allowing you to think back over the wonders you have just experienced.
Overall it does feel almost as much of a homage to those early rave days as it is a homage to nature.
Definitely the best electronic album of the year so far.