Album of the Week: Kölsch – 1989

Danish producer Rune Reilly Kölsch has been on a singular onerous mission through his albums; “the narration of his life through sonic soundscapes”. His previous two albums 1977 and 1983 documented two distinct periods in his life namely, early adolescence in Copenhagen’s Christiania and the first European trip travelling over the border to Germany aged six. 1989 marks the next in this series and also the completion of this extensive trilogy of records, which have marked a big portion of Kölsch’s working life.

The album references Kölsch’s teenage years through the divorce of his parents, a period he remembers as “a difficult time in my life, where I mostly just remember the greyness of it all… I would escape that grey world on my skateboard, listen to my Walkman as I explored the city around me. Music became my saviour—the only way to overcome my family’s hard times. I found a soundtrack to my grey life, and suddenly there was colour.”

That colour has always been tantamount to Kölsch’ sonic signature. Beguiling melodic and harmonic passages cascade off the energy of stoic rhythm sections destined for the dance floor, but not always quite arriving there. Songs like “grey” are misleading in their title as magnificent kaleidoscopic sonic adventures to some superterrestrial body. Throughout 1989 Kölsch attempts to relay that feeling of a new heightened sense of awareness through great big swathes of uplifting crescendoes and airy harmonic accompaniment and although at first appearance it might sound somewhat clichéd, their’s an unmistakeable honesty there, like the producer laying his emotions out bear in the open.

Some might liken 1989 to late nineties Trance, and certainly you would be forgiven for thinking that, but the album plays in rather more reserved tempos and the melodic phrasing is far more complex than what might evoke a late nineties Trance track. They remain beatific melodic expressions, articulated simply but also effectively. A little tawdry at times but never dull, 1989 is unashamedly happy and does well to express that feeling you get when you first experience a new sound for the first time. It puts an exclamation point rather than a full stop to this trilogy of records from Kölsch and Kompakt, and hopefully brings some contentment to the artist behind these works.