Static: Freedom of Noise

Mike Newmark

Freedom of Noise is a risky and wonderfully rich statement on the possibilities of electronic pop.


Freedom of Noise

Label: Karaoke Kalk
US Release Date: 2011-09-02
UK Release Date: 2011-09-26

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.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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

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