Heimat - Zwei
Follow-up to the instant cult-classic self-titled, the French/Germanic duo deliver another essential slab of post-punk hyper-folk pop.
Olivier and Armelle each quietly have seminal releases under their belts, as Accident du Travail and The Dreams respectively (as well as listless other solid releases as Cheveu, Badaboum etcetc.) but when they’re together as Heimat, something truly special happens.
Their 2016 debut is a near perfect piece of 21st century gothic pop. Tracks generally revolve around Olivier’s idiosyncratic approach to sampling East Asian ritual music; glitching gamelan with electro-pump whilst Armelle belts out in her Germanic deadpan rap and holler. It’s a constant bombardment of explosive, playful ideas that ends up falling somewhere between hip-hop and techno-pop.
Hence my excitement when in Feb ‘20 they announced a new album with the highly satisfying single Unterwegs, claiming the full Zwei would drop that August. I’m not sure what could’ve possibly hindered this occurring…but I was just happy knowing the project was still alive. And now another 6 months later in May 2021, I believe we have the first copies in the UK via Teenage Menopause Records.
‘ITA’ opens with urgent militancy, a marching snarebeat and crashing cymbal pinned to a mono-bass throb whilst Armelle calls us to (flail) arms. ‘Quando’ is a complete tonal shift, Armelle sounds lushious and sultry, unplacable samples and synths that don’t-quite-sound-like-any-instrument cast a melancholic hue over a simple 4x4.
‘Baggarsee’ is a 3-min chunk of uber-bombastic Casio-bass glitch-folk that only Heimat are allowed to do. ‘Kavernie’ is a disconcerting abstract instrumental, an atonal synth waltzing with bass stabs. ‘Unterwegs’ is the deserved single; a barrage of overtones (harmonica, church bell, bagpipe) are syncopated into a digidub beat that resembles a highly refreshing take on art-rock, sans-guitar.
‘Deine Frau’ is the lowkey highlight, Armelle gives a mournful eulogy against a backdrop of gentle gamelan and tides of cello, impossibly affective. ‘Tu Miedo’ kicks off side 2 proper, kozmic-teknoid-ballad style, no one else would even dare! ‘Weiss Du’ is one of those pieces of music that you can’t even dream up, Armelle taking a cartoonish form, skipping over the bonkers claps. And then THAT organ fires up. Not since Miles’ ‘Rated X’ has anyone cranked one out that hard. ‘La Colline’ is pastoral interlude, smoky loops and more church bells. ‘Die!’ distorts the bells further with a staccato snare driving us forward, menacing bass, hypno-synth and pipes ever-rising, leading us to X-eyed overtone Nirvana.
Accessible but experimental, or is it experimental yet accessible? I’m struggling to think of any reasonable comparisons or any viable genre-tags, so take that as the HIGHEST possible recommendation (or just as a sign I’m bad at this…).
RIYL: Nico, Rien Virgule, usé, Nina Harker, Dame Area.
LP Inc. download code and "2 heavy sleeve artworks from Pure Puree pictures and Geoffrey Kaiser drawings."
6. Deine Frau
7. Tu Miedo
8. Weiss Du
9. La Colline