Album: Station 17

Hitparade, Mute
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

A band formed by patients at a Hamburg welfare centre for the mentally handicapped, Station 17 have become an institution on the German rock scene, releasing several albums since their inception in the late Eighties, and attracting the patronage of such luminaries of German music as the Orb's Thomas Fehlmann, Can's Holger Czukay and Einstürzende Neubauten's very own Bob the Builder, F M Einheit. As their career has progressed, Station 17 have modernised their approach, moving from Can-style extended improvisations to samples, loops and sequenced pop grooves, arriving, by 1999's Bravo, at a point roughly commensurate with the burgeoning German new electronica scene of Pole, Kreidler and To Rococo Rot. Hence Hitparade, a remix album of Station 17 pieces refracted through various German DJs, bands and producers, including most of the aforementioned. It's a stylish collection, ranging from the haunting ambience of Steve Bug's "Bäckerblume", through the funk swagger of Thomas Fehlmann's "Losjez", to the musique concrète of F M Einheit's "Wollwirpeterrauchmitnehm", with a few recurrent sounds supplying a sense of continuity – as when the voice languidly intoning the title of Automatique's electro-collage "Tik Tak" pops up again among the syncopated wheezes of pump organ in Antonelli Electronic's rock-steady groove "Lila Pause/Wer tanzt humpelt nicht". Some tracks are grimly methodical or slow to develop, but the overall standard more than justifies the project.