The German band Mouth released their first album in 2009 and it took until 2017 before the second instalment. This was swiftly followed by a third in 2018, but progress was interrupted by the death of the band’s bassist Gerald Kirsch in the same year. Despite recent setbacks, band leader Christian Koller and the latest line-up have now delivered Getaway, described as “a musical narrative about a hopeless escape”.
Without going down too deeply into a rabbit hole, there are ’60s and ’70s references all over the album, including psychedelic, prog, krautrock and grunge. With all those influences in the mix it has a similar feel to Kula Shaker’s K album, but I have to say, this album is executed with a little less imagination and panache. Whilst the musicianship is strong and the song writing varied and interesting, unfortunately too often the music seems to lose direction and the momentum of the songs, or the album as a whole, are disrupted. Having said that, the band has a reasonable following in Germany so my problems with the album may be as simple as a difference in taste across cultures. In fact, for the opening 10 minutes I was strongly drawn into the music, but after the initial rush I lost my way with it and I couldn’t find a way back in.
The first half of the album is a 22-minute epic and the band announce themselves with some swirling Mellotron before kicking in with an up-tempo drum rhythm and some grungy guitar riffing. The drum patterns are really interesting, but they appear to be being played from inside a cupboard as the sound is bafflingly muddy. The threesome, with Christian Koller contributing guitars and keyboards, as well as song-writing and vocal duties, create a formidable wall of sound and mix the rather simplistic main theme with some excellent soloing and well-placed changes in tempo. It’s an exciting start, despite the concerns over the drum sound. At halfway, things turn more psychedelic with sitar style guitar tones and even more rapid drum rhythms. This section becomes quite a long instrumental passage that is more repetitive than progressive and the listeners patience is close to breaking point by the time it subsides into a gentler take on the original tune. The song closes with a coda of piano, keyboard washes and an understated vocal before fading out. Without the progression into epic-ness that is required in this type of long-form song, I am inclined to think that it would have had much more impact edited down to around 15 minutes.
The second half is a set of short songs, beginning with On the Boat, a post-punk, Kraut-rock dirge that, if nothing else, is an effective antidote to the opening track. This is swiftly followed by Sea, an instrumental (improvised?) track that relies too heavily on its original melody and thus fails to deliver any drama or tension.
On Purge and Hunt we are definitely into Kula Shaker territory. There are some really impressive guitar licks in the first part and I was willing this to be the signature song of the album. Inexplicably, after a frenetic couple of minutes, it quickly subsides into another instrumental wash and all the excitement fades away. Next up is Once, a straightforward Robbie Williams style pop-rock song that is confidently delivered but ultimately underwhelming. The album closes with another instrumental track using just a range of keyboard sounds. If we were emerging from a dramatic 40 minutes of epic prog rock it may just work as a soothing coda, but in this case it’s a bit of an indulgence.
The band is creating some great ideas from all the right influences, but in my view they need a bit more support in production and maybe try some fresh song writing collaborations if they are to realise their potential.
01. Getaway (22:48)
02. On the Boat (2:46)
03. Sea (5:59)
04. Purge & Hunt (5:41)
05. Once (3:56)
06. Drowning (2:49)
Total Time – 44:03
Christian Koller – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Thomas Johnen – Bass
Nick Mavridis – Drums, Keyboards
Record Label: This Charming Man Records
Country of Origin: Germany
Date of Release: 9th June 2023