Like a Stuntman: Original Bedouin Culture

By varying their gait and direction, Germany's Like a Stuntman have created a patient, entertaining, and ultimately distinctive album.

Like a Stuntman

Original Bedouin Culture

Label website:
Artist website:
Label: Bureau B
US Release Date: 2009-08-18
UK Release Date: 2009-08-10

After listening to this album, Like a Stuntman's choice of title for their second full-length makes sense. The Bedouin are a historically nomadic Arab ethnic group from the desert areas of Africa and the Middle East. Similarly, the music of Like a Stuntman carefully picks across the landscape, searching for a place to settle. This isn't because either can’t decide where they want to be -- it's a strategy for prosperous survival. Original Bedouin Culture roams from barren plains to rolling dunes, gleefully winding through unexpected paths along the way. By varying their gait and direction, Germany's Like a Stuntman have created a patient, entertaining, and ultimately distinctive album.

Although the group eventually settled, the Bedouin must have had a lot of time to ponder the infinite while crossing great expanses of desert. The wordless harmonies and the impressionistic lyrics of Original Bedouin Culture suit this practice quite well -- the music feels considered and reflective. The band plays with pop forms and electronic textures with equal dexterity. Clicks, buzzes, and krautrock rhythms suggest a fractured internal dialogue while leaving plenty of room for lyrical interpretation.

The Beach Boys loom as large as Kraftwerk on Like a Stuntman's landscape. These seminal bands may have written for different worlds -- sunny California highways and dark European cityscapes, respectively -- but a common sadness and ennui unites them. A cappella outtakes dripping with sadness from Pet Sounds and longing keyboard tones from The Man Machine beautifully coalesce in the sound of Like a Stuntman. The band understand these contrasts and they usefully pull from both general frameworks to create something unique. There may be shades of other bands such as Fuck, the Flaming Lips, and the Notwist, but of significant credit to this band, their music defies easy comparison.

On Original Bedouin Culture, Like a Stuntman also seem to draw inspiration from Jim Jarmusch's 1995 anti-Western film Dead Man. The opening "Wake Up William Blake" may refer to Johnny Depp's doomed character, who shares his name with the English poet and painter. The closing "In a Canoe" could be about the ending of the film, and the guitar bears a slight resemblance to Neil Young's epic soundtrack. These references might be coincidences as well.

Regardless of intent, the cinematic scope and questioning, introspective nature of some of the music on Original Bedouin Culture could effectively soundtrack portions of Dead Man. Ethereal, layered songs like "Owls" and "Damascus" match up well with the sinister black-and-white world of the film. These tracks, much like the film, are surreal, dark and satisfyingly discomforting.

The lead single, "MC Sensation", and "Off-Flavour" seem to fit into a different, more colorful world independent of Jarmusch's film. "MC Sensation" revolves around the lyrics "It's obvious why / You wear / Camouflage" without really explaining why it's so obvious. The band sound both triumphant and playful on the track. "Off-Flavour" takes it time to build up to a frenzied electronic squiggle before melting into a vocal-heavy comedown. Like a Stuntman succeed in varying these emotional approaches primarily because of their patient, studied approach to songwriting. The band simply know when to step back and allow their songs to breathe.

Original Bedouin Culture is a quirky, fuzzy album that rewards repeat listens. The electronic and vocal density of the music only reveals itself gradually and, to the band's great credit, rarely sounds overworked.

Sometimes following one's nomadic instincts can lead to the Promised Land.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.