Music: Dark Star

It’s 2021 and I can’t believe that this entry for my “songs to play loud” series is from 1991 — 30 years ago! That year tells you that I’m not writing about Crosby, Stills & Nash here (Dark Star, 1977), or the Grateful Dead (Dark Star, 1969), and not Beck either (Dark Star, 2006).

Instead, it’s German electronic-avantgarde duo Deine Lakaien, who released their “Dark Star” on the same named album in, as mentioned, 1991. Those were the days… before loudness wars. So the sound is a bit tinny by today’s standards (once more). Add some bass and treble, and then… play it loud (in case you didn’t already guess that;-).

In my youth and adolescence, I was more or less heavily involved in the Amiga demo scene. One of the most interesting things about the demo scene and the demo-groups was that it connected people from all over the world — even before the days of the internet. Occasionally, people would meet in person, of course, and I remember that one such “group meeting” was scheduled somewhere in or near Germany’s Ruhr district (Ruhrgebiet).

The Bavarian members, me being one of them, went there by train, and our group’s “leader” Thomas picked us up at the train station (to go to someone’s basement that had been transformed into a den filled with Amiga computers, CRT monitors, and funny people). I was mightily impressed already because he was driving a friggin’ Citroën BX! What a car for a young guy! He had a pretty cool stereo system in the car of course (which was almost mandatory at that age and during that time, I guess).

Many of the guys from the group were into wave/goth/indie at the time, and dressed and styled accordingly. So was Thomas. All black from tip to toe. He was blasting some music while driving, of course — and one of the tracks was “Dark Star”, from the same named 2nd album by German duo Deine Lakaien.

Imagine you’re a guy from some provincial town in rural Bavaria (that would have been me) and you travel to urban Ruhr district to meet these funny, cool and high-energy guys… and then this music! I was blown away.

First the weird and extremely sparse instrumentation in the verses, and with the odd stereo separation — what the hell? Alexander Veljanov’s impressive voice is rich and dark, and the simple sequencer bassline is only added for the bridge that builds tension into this super-melodious, powerful refrain: Dark star, you light of my night. (when you listen I hope that you agree – this has to be loud, demands to be loud:)

Fantastic! What the hell was that stuff?! When Thomas said “Deine Lakaien” I had obviously never even heard of them. The band name means “your footmen” (or lackeys, minions, servants, depending on the context). It was all just very, very weird to me. 🙂

He continued playing the album until we reached his home and I was hooked. Local record stores didn’t have that music, so I ordered a copy from a mail-order company later. Some of their tracks are quite edgy and I can honestly say that over the years and on all of their albums, only a few tracks meet my preference for the darker and more melodic stuff (“Return” from Kasmodiah is great too, for example). In fact, “Dark Star” is one of the few uptempo tracks of Deine Lakaien that I really like.

I lost track until a few years ago, when I was curious what had happened to them and then found that their last album was from 2014, “Crystal Palace” (5 out of 10 tracks are keepers). Most recently, they announced a new album for April 2021 and I hope that maybe it’ll be released on Bandcamp because two single tracks have appeared there. 🙂

Thoughts? Let me hear them.

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