The outfit behind 2003 club hit "Manila" has more than commercial disco house up its sleeve.
If the name Seelenluft sounds familiar, it might be because of a track called “Manila”, a club hit from their 2002 album Out of the Woods. But behind most every club hit’s a producer sweating out independent releases for years: sure enough, Birds and Plants and Rocks and Things marks mastermind Beat Soler’s fifth full-length. The result of all that effort is a producer without the burden of expectation -- fine craftsmanship may be as much a goal, for Seelenluft, as re-creating that 15 minutes’ fame. And, in general, Birds and Plants and Rocks and Things delivers on this: understated electro and funk basslines shuffle with krautrock-esque efficiency, and strings peacefully float in the background. The laid-back attitude recalls Fujiya & Miyagi, especially on more dance-oriented instrumental tracks like “The World Through the Little Wind” and the pinging, heady “Blossom Headed Parakeet”. Throughout, vocal duties are handled (mostly) by Florian Horwarth, who sounds a little like soulful Brits Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip) or Simon Lord (the Black Ghosts), though he’s less robust. But he’s charming, and so nonchalant you don’t really mind. If there’s one song that might get a few people talking here it’s “Horse With No Name”, a polished discopop cover of America’s 1972 hit. This version is light and airy, a bit of simple but effective Balearic appropriation. Seelenluft’s unassuming lack of pretension predisposes you to wish them another hit, however long overdue. And who knows -- a number of tracks on this LP could well be it.