Okta Logue, v.l.n.r. Benno Herz (Vocals, Bass), Nicolai Hildebrandt (Organ), Philip Meloi (Guitar), Robert Herz (Drums)
Photograph by Sandra Günther
Tobias Thomas (DJ and journalist) about Okta Logue:
»How, where and when did this begin, that I, of all people, a seasoned techno-veteran, former pop writer, explicit follower of pop culture and even a Pet Shop Boys- and The Smiths-socialite, should be so enthusiastic about this band ?
Of course it all started with »Bright Lights«, this extremely successful and highly-prized masterpiece of a videoclip, which single-handedly set the scene for friends of Okta Logue. Okta Logue were – and this can be seen even at this early stage of their progress – hardly recognizable or even audible, without the visual companion, this image which accompanies the music. If you were blind, e.g., you would not have to understand or even like Okta Logue at once; if you were deaf, there would still be something left to enjoy.
Meaning: my first contact reminded me of the music of the old buffers, that used to hang around the record stores of my childhood or rather the hippy pubs of my youth –
guys with all kinds of krautrock, blues und prog-rock experience, which had this peculiar smell of beer and tobacco about them. But at a second glance, you realize that this young band from the hessian diaspora definitively belongs to the infinite universe of cool and the undying realm of pop music.
This is due, amongst other things, to the fine signs and secret codes, that can be found in abundance, e.g. in »Bright Lights«, but also in other clips and documentaries of the band: way too tight jeans and swimming trunks, extreme pointy shoes, impossible haircuts, way too short men’s t-shirts, and of course, the whole program of nude ocean swimming, lots of beer and hand-rolled cigarettes complete the picture.
If it wasn’t for the band playing a) such extraordinarily and b) damn good music for their age, Okta Logue unceasingly present themselves as the embodiment of an ultra-cool group of dudes, that just love to do nothing but to make highways unsafe with their dark-red vintage band-van and to get out their guitars at romantic festivals far away from rocking rings and parks. Yes, as a matter of fact, everything is vintage and “like it used to be” with Okta Logue, they have fallen »out of time«, as spectators like to express. In doing so, and this is extremely crucial, the band understands how to connect an »old« sign with a »new« one, how to immediately cross a positive particle with a negative one, so to speak. They understand how to counter and how to neutralize the effect and thereby still keep the thrill upright. I guess, if seen pop historically, you could say, one is constantly dipping in an extremely exciting contrast bath of feelings.
The main character in the video to »Bright Lights« is not just wearing an impossibly gay pair of swimming trunks, but also this thin hipster mustache, a nerdy pair of glasses and is holding a bottle of liquor, that reminds us of Courvoisier, which used to be the favorite beverage in hip hop circles. The whole multi-colored garden, in which the clip is set, is just full of referential gimmicks, citations and contrasts. And to remain within the freefall of signs, there is even a DJ next to the barbecue – whose underwear-swimming trunks I would rather hush about – who is accompanied not by an indie-electro-mixture or vintage basic-techno, which we have heard a thousand times before, but by bluesy, organ-heavy rock, which just seems to be fallen out of time, when we first hear it. But it is not.
There is a similar effect on their new album »Tales Of Transit City« , which immediately catches our ear in the first song »Transit«, but this time on a musical level. We hear a bubbly synthesizer for a few seconds, before the typical whining Okta Logue guitars join in, a downright jazzy set of drums build a new, subtle contrast, followed by organ, voice and bass, which all densify in an anti-climax, before the synthesizer returns, foaming up like an official club track, finally discharging in rave similar rock structures.
After being sent on a wondrous journey by the first song, we hear all kinds of themes during the continuing course of »Tales Of Transit City« e.g. Beatles-quotes, Brit-Pop-reminiscence, never before written Keith-Richards-riffs, Wilco-bows and club-sounding synthesizers, that meet with exalted choirs. As soon as the album is over, you astonishingly want to hear it all again. Okta Logue are a shiny example of what extraordinarily musical results young bands can achieve nowadays. This is of course also due to their parents’ record collection, as well as the infinite archive of the internet. But primarily I see a circle closing for myself, the heir of 20, 30 years of electronic music and club culture, which probably reversed the polarity of every particle in this country. Ever since, we rock, dance, party, compose, love and write differently under German rooftops.
I hear all of this in the subtext of Okta Logue. A serenity, sovereignty and candidness born of this freedom draws our attention in every song and in every note of »Tales Of Transit City« – much stronger, but also much more self-evident as on their debut »Ballads Of A Burden«.
It turned out to be a damn good second album – after all you can make a lot of mistakes – an album, that casually and sexily frees itself from the vintage-trap and retro-drawer, that beats itself with its own weapons and which takes a decisive step towards pop without losing itself in clichés, pomp or kitsch.
Okta Logue still wear pants and t-shirts, which are way too tight and too short and their haircuts are impossible. They will hopefully maintain this ultra-cool image of a cross-dressing hipster-band, which has heavily turned back the clock. They will probably continue making awesome videos, even though they no longer need this image for »Tales Of Transit City«. This is music, which you damn well enjoy listening to, even if you are blind. «