BUM KHUN CHA YOUTH - Alarm! Hanns-Martin ist verschwunden

Bum Khun Cha Youth - Alarm! Hanns-Martin ist verschwunden

12 songs
43:02 minutes
***** **

I though thought that Germany’s Bum Khun Cha Youth had become history. The band was never too busy and released two vinyl singles in 1997 and 1998 and one twelve inch LP in 2004. In the following years, a few songs appeared on a couple of compilations. It is therefore possible that this CD is the band’s digital debut.

Even if the band is not too productive, they can’t complain about a lack of imagination. The band name is a caricature of Hrubesch Youth, a punk band from the early Nineties that chose a soccer player for their band name. Horst Hrubesch was playing for the Hamburger SV and Standard Liège, Bum Kun Cha (slightly different spelling) was an active player for Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen. Even weirder than the band name is the album title Alarm! Hanns-Martin ist verschwunden, which is an allusion to the assassination of Hanns-Martin Schleyer through the Red Army Faction in 1977.

Bum Khun Cha Youth are two Ulrich Nachtigall and Linus Volkmann, both playing guitars and singing, who play sentimental indie pop with a strong electronic touch. They get some support by their former drummer Jens Friebe who has recently started an impressive solo career.

The opener Hungern gegen den Staat, already released on a single in 2004, is synth pop close to Jens Friebe’s sound. The following Am Strande von St. Antoine goes into the same direction, but is built upon more dominating beats. Next are the two only unsatisfactory songs on the albums. Neither Alles ist bereit nor Bist du glücklich convince me, as the lack of speed makes them quite boring. The following eight songs are again much better, especially the groovy Nicht ganz klar and the NDW influenced Manege Frei with its hypnotic structure à la Rheingold. The album’s highlight is the bonus song Wann hast du eigentlich aufgehört, mich zu lieben, Schatz!, another track that was already on a single in the Nineties.

Bum Khun Cha Youth have never released a trendy album, and listening to it demands some attention, comprehension and patience from the listener as their sound isn’t downright accessible. But if you like electronic beats, sterile wave patterns from the Eighties and bands like Tocotronic, you might also get something out of this record.

The lyrics are a more controversial subject. For my taste, they have a too intellectual touch. I respect very much that they like old socialist values, and 50 cent from each sold record go to ‘Rote Hilfe’, a left wing organisation for solidarity with victims of the state. What I don’t like so much is the band’s irrational fear of anti-Zionism (which they like many other German left extremists mistake commonly and deliberately for anti-Semitism, to discredit those who do not agree with them as some kind of racists) which makes little sense when following right-wing US-backed political activities of Israel.

Bum Khun Cha Youth are one of the few bands that have neither an official band homepage nor a Myspace site. I think that in our modern world of information, this can be a huge handicap for such a stubborn band. As it was hard to find a lot of online information about the band, I hope that this review doesn’t contain too many wrong details.

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