Wir Sind Hier is the sophomore effort of Ekkehard Ehlers (of Auch, Betrieb, and his own Plays series) and Albrecht Kunze on Berlin, Germany’s Karaoke Kalk label. Despite the label’s location, this Marz release is a far cry from the hard-edged sounds of the city’s world-class techno scene, floating as a soft, puffy cloud over an empty park in the midst of a stark, sprawling cityscape.
With help from friends, the duo conjures up full-bodied arrangements with a number of organic instruments — guitar, piano, xylophone, accordion, trombone, violin, banjo, lap steel, double-bass — that are touched up digitally with an array of filters, textures and beats. It’s an approach not unlike the folktop laptronica of Ulrich Schnauss or Four Tet, but März uses a more studied songwriting method. Delicate folky and poppy vocals appear on roughly half the tracks, with lyrics sung mostly in English with a little German. The effect is beautiful and exciting, acknowledging an expansive, technological, grandiose view of life but retaining a certain uplifting intimacy. The accomplishment begs comparison to some impossible thing, like, say, a musical distillation of alpenglow. Wir Sind Hier is undoubtedly one of 2004’s underexposed gems.