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Static

Freedom of Noise

(Karaoke Kalk; US: 2 Sep 2011; UK: 26 Sep 2011)

Static’s Hanno Leichtman apparently wanted his newest album to be entirely different than 2006’s Re: Talking About Memories—and you bet your sweet Aspercreme it is. Leichtman gave the fading laptop pop of his previous record the makeover of its life, swapping the sweat pants and rubber duck shirt for makeup, diamond earrings and a hip-hugging black dress. The grand result, Freedom of Noise, is a daring, rich, and enormously sexy statement on all that electronic pop can be. It’s the kind of record that makes you thankful to have ears.


Perhaps due to his membership in at least two bands (Groupshow, with Jan Jelinek and Andrew Pekler, and Denseland, with David Moss and Hannes Strobl), Leichtman understood the importance of recruiting strong musicians to interact with in the studio. Freedom of Noise has about a dozen of them: a harpist, two brass players, three singers, an organist, a piano player, a flautist, a cellist, and more. So often, the hallmark of great interplay between different instruments is the inability to notice how many there really are, and it’s a testament to Static as a band that the album sounds like the work of one man. When you listen to it carefully, you can pinpoint the many silk-thin layers of instrumentation that meld seamlessly together in the gorgeous, loping introduction. “Sister Pain” has just a ton of things going on, but what stands out is not its busyness, it’s how the track rides a groove like a jet ski on a placid lake, and continues to bloom from its own energy.


Remarkable, too, is how much love Static has for very different kinds of songs. Leichtman’s put as much passion into the glitch-flavored loop of “The Heimlich Manoeuvre” as he has into his most showy and catchy pop song to date, “Freedom of Noise”, where vocalist Falko Teichmann asks you whether you’re doing it for the girls, the boys, or the freedom of noise, over the most narcotic synth squelches on any album this year. Even duds like “The Boy Who Ran into the Sun”, a ballad featuring the misadventures of the titular character, fail spectacularly. The way Teichmann, who on the title track could’ve passed for a Krautrock ex-pat, says the word “cash” has soul, authentic cool, and perhaps even a pelvic thrust behind it. This is not a record made by robots. It was made by humans, who take real risks and make real magic. And it was intended for humans, who are invited to use the full capacity of their senses to imbibe its multitude of pleasures.

Rating:

Mike has been a staff writer at PopMatters since 2009. He began writing music reviews for his college paper in 2005, where he cut his teeth as an arts editor and weekly columnist. He graduated from Vassar in 2008 and is pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. He is currently writing his dissertation on the role of rejection sensitivity in online infidelity, and lives with his incredible girlfriend in a wonderful shoebox apartment in Washington, DC.


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Hanno Leichtmann -- the man behind Static -- is an expert at unpacking deceptively complex sounds to laudible effect.
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