PENDIKEL - Reise ins Gewisse
Pendikel released two noise rock albums in the Nineties that didn’t get too much recognition. After a lengthy break, they reinvented themselves in the new millennium, initially again to little success, but their fourth album Don’t Cry, Mondgesicht finally put them on the top of the German indie rock movement, much to the band’s surprise, as their crossover of melancholic indie sounds with Seventies prog grandeur was everything but digestible. While working on their new album, they took some time off to be back with a retrospective compilation, not a best-of, but a collection of unreleased material, rarities and remixes.
Reise ins Gewisse starts with three unreleased cuts from their last album. The opener Unter anderen shows Pendikel from a rocking and unexpectedly soulful side, while Bus in die Freiheit and Leider schwierig are sadder indie rock material, the latter ending with a part that reminds of Robert Wyatt’s mouthed trumpet sounds. All three tracks are excellent and you can only wonder why they were left out. Phantasievoll (aber unpraktisch) is the title song of their second album, except that it was never released back in the Nineties. It’s a short acoustic instrumental which works nice as a bridge between songs, but in itself it’s nothing really special.
Three cover versions are next. Nick Drake’s River Man starts quietly with undistorted electric guitar and mellotron before adding noisy guitars. Nicely done, bridging the their future with their past. Originally released on In Search of a Master – In Search of a Slave. A Tribute to Nick Drake in 1999. The Minutemen’s It’s Expected I’m Gone is from a 1997 compilation seven inch record with other bands and shows Pendikel from a crazy angular but also untypical side. Also from the mid-Nineties, but unreleased, is their take at King Crimson’s instrumental rocker Red which they try to modernise and speed up. Works nicely even if the original is untoppable. Schöner Tag is again an own song and a return to the German language. It’s a nice ballad which was recorded for their third album 3 but only released on an obscure label compilation.
Five remixes of songs from their last CD conclude the album. Von Fall zu Fall is a prime example of how to make a genial remix. Some tracks are deleted, new ones are added, transforming this very rocking song into a sublimely blip beat track reminding me of Notwist, making the remix even better than the original. Piepton adds some Penguin Café Orchestra minimalism but isn’t as revolutionary as the preceding track. Zitatmaschine gets a white-noise work-over, and fails at it. Just too grating and too far away from the original mood of Pendikel. Dead City, the band’s chef d’oeuvre, tries hard but only adds a few sounds to the very progressive original, without really improving the perfect original. The final Bis zum letzten Mal dives into late night jazz sombreness, with a dark electring piano, throbbing bass lines and a shaky drum sound. Strange but a worthy end. Or not really an end yet, because after ten minutes of silence, Pendikel resume with an understated acoustic lo-fi rendition of Alan Parsons’ Don’t Answer Me. And then it’s really over.
Reise ins Gewisse is not a regular album, but as a collection of rarities and oddities, it works much better than most similar albums. Apart from one disappointing remix, this is more than one hour of music that deserves to be listened to and is even sold at a socially low price. Pendikel are the best German band of the moment, because they dare to combine their accessible indie rock sound with complex arrangements that should be a synonym for commercial suicide, except that they proved otherwise with their last album. This is a band to be reckoned with in the future!