Saturday, July 11, 2020
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Projekt Ich: By Train Through Counties

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Artist: Projekt Ich (@)
Title: By Train Through Counties
Format: CD + Download
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Projekt Ich is a synthpop endeavor spearheaded by Ulf Muller from Rosenheim/Barvaria. Since 2011 he's released numerous singles and EPs, but this is Projekt Ich's first full album. In order to execute his concept ('By Train Through Counties') Muller asked various vocalists across Europe from other groups to sing his compositions. The travelling party includes: Wolfgang Kemmerling / PLEXIPHONES (DE), Marcus Mokuso / Rename – Mindmodvl (DE), Mick L. Angelo / 5TimesZero (DE), Erik Stein / Cult With No Name (GB), Catrine Christensen / SoftWave (DK), Manfred Thomaser & Alex Braun / !distain (DE), Michael Draw / Otto Dix (RU), Caroline McLavy (GB), Oleg Degtiarev / Lilith My Mother (CZ), Markus Kühnel / Elandor (DE), René & Susan Mußbach / Analogue-X (DE), Asia Wolf / End Of New (IR). Lyrically, the songs deal with social problems and personal stories between love, dreams, longing as well as grief, fury and despair. Most of the songs were pre-released as singles in order to appreciate and acknowledge the singers involved with their very own release including remix versions by international artists. Therefore, this album presents a summary of Projekt Ich’s conceptual work of the last two years.

So there is a lot of talent on this album, and also variety in the vocal department. My problem is with Projekt Ich's compositions more than their execution. Muller is a competent, though not particularly innovative synthesist. The songs lean toward the more twee side of synthpop or else become melodramatic, but lack the edginess to have much of an impact. Too bright, too light, too much fluff and not enough substance. One exception, a darker song titled "The Sleepy Time" sung by Caroline McLavy repeats the phrase "We live in sleepy times" over and over again. What does that even mean? Projekt Ich seems to take itself too seriously for my taste, and no matter how hard the vocalists try with this material, it lacks punch and the poignancy it is often trying to portray. If René & Susan Mußbach put a track like "Forgotten Dreams" on an Analogue-X album, it would be an easily forgotten track. Maybe one needs a Euro perspective to enjoy this sort of synthpop, but to use a distinctly American idiom, 'By Train Through Counties' doesn't really cut the mustard for us here.

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