The Berlin/Hamburg based brothers Thomas and Matthias Juhnke a.k.a. Strange Souvenirs are back out the shadows of The Famous Gold Watch Studios with their latest single ‘Nothing2’.
After repeating this song about 6 times in a row on my first listen, a strangely familiar disembodied murmur came rising up into the peripheral of my memory and I realized as I was laughing out loud to myself as it was none other than a certain Joker reminding me,’ I Believe Whatever Doesn’t Kill You, Simply Makes You STRANGER.’
Yes indeed I have been chain smoking this song in the dead of night wondering when it’s safe again to answer the door, or the phone, or that certain someone or absolutely nothing. Nothing2 contains within it’s dramatic 5 minute lifespan the bittersweet taste of paradox. The track embodies graceful psychedelic paranoid ‘Brit-POP’ surgically masked in mellotron, organs, pianos, drums and cinematic electric gut punches that are spun into the narrative with edgy string arrangements and cliff hanger ‘comfortable silences’ between rolling orchestral crescendos and a blood-spattered drunken choir.
The song started off like any other day with a lonesome jangling acoustic guitar and then suddenly decided to run away with the circus (or was it planned from the start?) who really knows, it seems to be celebrating a black hole that has finally devoured itself and I for some reason I feel magnetized to cheer along.
The singer is sounding a bit unhinged like perhaps he’s been spun out of orbit and flung head first cartoon-like towards interstellar space but beneath the slightly nihilistic undertone he sounds quite happy to be ‘free?’ It’s hard to locate any sort of ‘radioactive’ passive aggression leaking into the tracks atmosphere as he sings ‘this is what it all amounts to, when the day/night is through, absolutely nothing.’ Out of limbo he is floating towards that great big eye in the sky, reflecting back that some entanglements need a clean break, as a clean as a razor.
This latest invention by Strange Souvenirs seems light years away musically from their last works but still has the refined and powerful mix/master sensibility that made their last productions so interesting and inspiring to listen to. You can tell they put a lot of effort into mixing and arranging this song, it must have been methodical and at the same time they sound strong and confident as their performance is absolutely smashing, it comes out sounding magically natural and intense and it is refreshing to hear how the parts fall and overlap where they do.
Nothing2 feels more Olivia Tremor Control/Elephant 6 Recordings than Beatles or Brian Jonestown Massacre and it is heartening to hear such a masterpiece coming out of Berlin in these strange times.