In my final semester of school, last spring, I felt like my thesis would never end. I melodramatically thought I would be writing about youth voting habits until the letters on my keyboard fell off and my fingers were nothing but calloused stubs. This stress is not uncommon, as most of you (if you’re in school) are going through it right now. On Dieter SchÃ¶Ã¶n‘s debut, Leblaza, Schoon laments the same feelings as he sings, Ill be working on this album for the rest of my life, on the track Hogface. The record has been out overseas for some time now, but now it comes to the U.S. with a new cover and a new life.
To listen to Dieter SchÃ¶Ã¶ns adventurous record and successfully comprehend it is a little tricky. Fellow band member Carl Siewertz warned me of this on a couple occasions, but the beauty of this music is its openness. You can hear it in both the words and the composition, as the record moves stylistically across the board from Chilean folk inspirations to explorations in minimalist electronica. Lablaza is a 40-minute journey into the psyche of a lost artist as he relates his message of the desire for freedom and the complications in getting it.
From the Scandinavian mariachi opening on Mary Jane, to the simple beat looping and word play of Warm Hearts, the album travels places that are difficult to find on a lot of recent releases. Its not that similarities dont exist in music today, its just that Siewertz and company manage to combine them all into one record, with abstract lyrical themes leading the songs in apropos mystery. This is demonstrated in The Harbours Cold, with its lazy melodies and playful guitars. Ill go there and Jethead get even stranger, venturing into early Beck territory. With verses that carry endless meaning, the songs surround the central theme of freedom, and what people are willing to do to obtain it.
As the record moves along, the themes become clearer and the music adds a touch of spacey Americana to the mix. The most haunting track comes with the aforementioned Hogface, as Schoon bears his struggle with creating this record. The lyrics are telling, as he sings of pressures that surrounded him during the long recording process. This only solidifies that SchÃ¶Ã¶n is a perfectionist (the record is self-produced), and Lablaza is his torn masterpiece. The last two tracks are the final goodbye as he waves you off, literally saying goodbye with the closer Auf Weidersehen.
Bands that start out as experimental often have the best advantage when it comes to making records because there are no pre-set expectations. Dieter SchÃ¶Ã¶n is all over the map, while still being strangely cohesive with everything they write. Lablaza is an impressive debut endeavor that will have me listening over and over, gathering further meaning only for it to be altered in time. However, for Schoon, his message is obvious – freedom is everything.