Projekt Ich is the name German musician Ulf Muller works under and over the last couple of years he has set out on a very interesting journey, which has resulted in the release of the album "By Train Through Countries".
what makes this so interesting is the fact that virtually all the tracks were released as singles before the release of the album. Each single has featured different lead vocalists from the independent electronic music scene, in addition each single release was backed by a number of remixes, which is important, that will become evident at the end of this review, so pay attention :)
The album opens with "Time For memories", which features label mates Plexiphones and it is a good solid opening track, which has a bit of a 60's vibe about it, synths sound superb and add to the depth of the track, all rounded off with an excellent vocal, has quite a joyous chorus.
Now I am a big fan of the work of Marcus Mokuso of Rename (Their best of compilation is a must for synthpop fans), he has a unique vocal style, clearly influenced by Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, the track "New Dreams For Old" is bright and optimistic and definitely is the most "Synthpop" track on the album, great synth sounds throughout and Marcus is on top form. My favourite track on this album. Superbly produced.
"Where Are The Angels" features Mick L Angelo of 5TimesZero, I like the intro on this track, nice use of rhythm sounds and the synths are fabulous, Ulf knows how to get the best out of a synthesizer, lots of pad layers, another fine example of synthpop, the vocals add a haunting flavour to the track.
I am very familiar with the work of Erik Stein, vocalist in the band Cult With No Name, as well as providing vocals on 2 of the tracks on this album, the first being "Running", he also provided vocals to tracks on Rusty Egans' album "Welcome To The Dancefloor". I really enjoy Erik's vocal style, he has a voice that draws you in and you feel compelled to listen to what he has to say, he certainly adds dimension to this track, a synth laden track with an atmospheric sound.
"Little Star" is a wonderful synthpop tune that features Catrine Christensen of Softwave on vocals, I love the erie synth sounds and the upbeat nature of the song, some nice sequencer touches and the rhythm section is excellent. A big favourite of mine :)
Like Projekt Ich, !Distain are signed to the German independent label Echozone and they have worked together brilliantly on "Thanks", i'm a big fan of !Distain and I have to say this track is a highlight on this album, quite minimalistic but everything about it is perfect, it has emotion and lovely melodic synth hooks, a beautiful ballad, pushes "New Dreams For Old" very close for best track on the album.
Next we have the first German vocal track on the album, "Es Ist Wahr" which features Michael Draw of Otto Dix, it has a dark sound and is a track I struggled to get into, probably partly because it is in German, has a bit of a harder edge overall and strays from the synthpop sound of many of the other tracks on the album.
Caroline McLavy is on vocal duty on "The Sleepy Time", this too has a much harder edge to the sound and I wasn't keen on the vocal effects used, probably my least favourite track on the album.
"The Lightman", featuring Oleg Degtiarev sees Ulf back into Synthpop territory and it is a fantastic track, reminded me a little of early Depeche Mode, certainly sound wise, Oleg delivers a haunting vocal' I think the synth work on this song is exceptional and again is superbly produced.
The music on "Doch Das Was Blieb" is excellent, superb rhythm parts too, I would love to hear an english language version of the song, it has something that captures your attention.
"Forgotten Dreams" features another band signed to Echozone, Analogue-X, and together they have produced a wonderful warm sounding track, the vocals are excellent, the boy/girl vocals work really well. Beautiful pad sounds that give the track almost a cinematic sound, a fabulous track and a big favourite of mine.
Erik Stein features again on "This Time I'm Over You", yet again his vocal performance is mesmerizing, underpinned by a quality music backdrop, the synths on this track are really impressive, wonderful choice of sounds and some nice melodic touches. Another track I am a big fan of.
"Lullaby For Alisa" is a very haunting track and would be perfect as a soundtrack song for a horror movie, dark electronics used to very good effect, the vocal by Asia Wolf is as equally haunting, I like this track because it is very different to the rest of the album.
The third and final German vocal based track is "Das Meer", despite being in German I quite enjoyed this track, musically it is quite minimalistic but the synths are allowed to shine when required.
The album closes with the title track, which is an instrumental, which I think has filmic qualities, the use of guitar alongside the electronics work well, I could see this track being used as part of a soundtrack to a thriller.
I like what Ulf has done with this album and it was a very good move to get various vocalists on board, as it gives the album a uniqueness, I hope he decides to go down that route in the future, because it works so well.
I have been fortunate to have been given the opportunity of hearing this album evolve as the various singles have been released and it has been quite a journey, factor into that the wealth of remixes available for the majority of the album tracks, you can create any number of different versions of the album, another smart move by Ulf.
A mention too for the artwork, it is simply stunning.
I hope you paid attention to what I said at the start of this review, if you have then your patience will be rewarded....
Ulf is making available all of the singles and remixes as FREE DOWNLOADS if you purchase the CD version of the album, that equates to over 16 hours of music and over a 180 tracks, the album is available on CD for just 12 Euros, now that is an absolute bargain and trust me when I say, the remixes are superb too.
So to get your hands on a wealth of music for 12 Euros just head on over to the Echozone Music Label Bandcamp page via the link below:
The album is available via the Projekt Ich Bandcamp page here:
Follow Projekt Ich on Facebook via the link below:
Visit the official homepage of Projekt Ich via the link below: