Trans-European friends (from left to right): Michael Künzer, Keen K, and Fred Ventura
The German electronic outfit Alba are on a winning streak at the moment. They kicked it off late last year by releasing the sparkling, three-part powerhouse Philomena, and are now following it up with the emotionally electric torch-song, Without You.
Though the London-based member of the group, Roland Sebastian Faber has sat this particular release out as he works on his solo album, the other two members who are based in Germany — Michael Künzer and Keen K — have gained a singer, the legendary Fred Ventura.
A well-respected veteran of the italo scene, Fred Ventura started his music career in the late seventies playing drums with the Milanese new-wave band, State of Art. He went on to have a solo career through most of the eighties as a vocalist with a string of hits like “Love Theme from Flexxy Ball (You’ll Never Change No More)” and “Body Heat” with the group Fockewulf-190 that have come to be regarded as italo classics. In recent years, he has come back into the limelight outside of Italy through the work of I-F and Alden Tyrell.
Working with Fred Ventura marks a milestone in the history of the Aube label, as their first official release back in 2007 was another italo-styled track, Hold Me by Jupiter Black, that was built around lyrics provided by Ventura. After its release, it received great feedback from music journalists and fans alike; it was championed by I-F on his internet radio station, CBS, and was described by music journalist Lina Goldberg as one of Fred Ventura’s strongest songs.
For this new release, Flemming Dalum, the legendary Danish DJ, mentor and custodian (with a record collection numbering in the thousands) has given it the thumbs up for capturing an authentic italo sound, but without what he calls the cheesiness of italo. This is down to Ventura, who has the ability to handle dramatically over-the-top themes, like lost love and bitter seperations, with a poigancy that fits perfectly with moody synth-pop.
Künzer and Keen K are also very talented electronic musicians; they are able to recreate sounds from over twenty years ago, but never lose themselves in it with enough of their own musical inventions and signatures to keep it fresh.
They have also inherited the creative mantle of the Düsseldorf school of electronic music. They don’t put out a lot of music; but when they do, it is of a very high quality, with great technical skill hidden behind the vinyl. This particular release was recorded entirely on analogue equipment to get the sound outside of the computer box that most electronic music is often trapped in.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, one of the great features of Aube”s releases are their record sleeves, featuring original artwork by internationally reknowned artists like Emil Schult and Marc Brandenburg. The latest is a return to Syd Brak, who did there first release, Hold Me, and whose iconic airbrush art is instantly recognisable as a major feature of early eighties art.
Although CDs are certainly becoming a thing of the past, I still think that they are a great way for artists to collect their best work together and give themselves some posterity, rather than to be scattered to the four-winds of the internet. I hope that Alba one day collect the best tracks together onto a single album.
Without You is available as a limited edition 12″ and digital download through the Aube website, as well as the regular internet music outlets. (You can also download a preview from the soundcloud embed below)