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Jazz for people who hate jazz, Bohren & Der Club of Gore is a singular gift, and the album “Sunset Mission” is a sultry standout.

Music.

Ask a thousand different people what it means to them, and you’ll get a thousand different answers in response. But regardless of its personal importance, music is, for lack of a better descriptor, one of mankind’s great equalizers – after all, aside from language itself, is there anything more universal across humanity’s various cultures, geographies, and time periods than a shared fascination with cadence and rhyme?

For me, music is my livelihood. A gig that puts bread on the table and rye in the tumbler. I take the tough cases, the assignments nobody else wants. Obscurity is my specialty, strangeness my stock in trade.

While the rest of the city slumbers, I heed the call of my mysterious benefactors, investigating the interstitial information superhighways and plumbing the depths of darkened data vaults for your audiophilic pleasure.

Here are my case files, dear listener, declassified at long last, spotlighting lesser-known artists from around the globe and across the years. May they serve you well.

CASE #:

0002

View the Case File Archives

TYPE OF INVESTIGATION:

Jazz, easy listening, mood music, ambient

NAME:

Bohren & Der Club of Gore

SURNAME:

Sunset Mission

DOB:

Sometime in 2000

CITIZENSHIP:

Germany

ALIASES:

N/A

KNOWN ASSOCIATES:

Twin Peaks soundtrack, Angelo Baldamenti, Don Rendell & Ian Carr (the Shades of Blue album), Autumn’s Gray Solace, Paul Pritchard

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS:                     

Jazz. That word either excites your eardrums… or makes you throw up in your mouth a little. For me, it’s almost always the latter. For as much of a music lover as I am (and I daresay I’m in the “extreme fan” category), I really do struggle with “real” jazz. Are the musicians crazy talented? Unequivocally yes. Can there be moments of utter brilliance? Without a doubt.

But there’s something about the freeform nature of jazz that really rubs me the wrong way, going against the grain of my more symmetrical leanings.

I wholeheartedly love (and devour) progressive rock and metal, but for whatever reason, jazz is a little too “out there” for me to enjoy. A little too unstructured. I can appreciate the skill and respect the players, and I’ve even played some of the instruments, but I derive very little actual pleasure from jazz. Maybe it’s my musical kryptonite.

Fortunately, Bohren & Der Club of Gore (B&DCoG) exist on the periphery of jazz, skirting the edge without fully submerging themselves. Jazz-lite, as it were. And this is the kind of bop I can happily immerse myself in.

Sultry. Simple. The kind of music that slinks and sashays, as opposed to swinging and stomping.

Of course, with a name like theirs, one would expect some sort of masked screamo outfit or super-aggressive EBM duo. And to be fair, Bohren & Der Club of Gore did start out (in 1992) as a strange amalgamation of jazz, fusion, and doom metal. Cuz, you know… Germany. Does it come as any surprise?

Thankfully, they seemed to realize that they needed to stick with one genre, as opposed to the unholy union they had going on, and gradually dropped the doom elements altogether for a more “gin joint” sound. The rest, as they say, is history.

Bohren & Der Club of Gore is, very nearly, the perfect background music — great for candlelit dinners, late-night drives, rainy day naps, slow dancing in the kitchen, and any number of relaxing “low-fi” hobbies.

The lack of vocals really helps to give the album a “one size fits all” approach.

Considering that I write a hefty amount of noir, their sound fits perfectly as a backdrop, helping to transport me right into the mood and the moment. You can practically smell the cigarette smoke, taste the bite of the bourbon, and feel the femme-fatale’s fiery flirtations.

One of the things I wonder about is the absolutely killer song titles and whether they come into existence before or after the music is recorded. I mean, with names like “Painless Steel”, “Black City Skyline”, and “Dead End Angels”, how can you go wrong? Absolutely. Freaking. Amazing.

Albums before and after Sunset Mission retain that awesome naming convention but don’t quite capture the same magic. This is B&DCoG at its very best and most accessible — pure sonic seduction.

That said, there are a lot of “samey” sounds going on here. Bass, drums, piano/keyboard, and sax, all played at a lethargic tempo, do not allow for a huge variation in delivery. As such, if you’ve heard one track from the album, you’ve kind of heard them all.

Again, this is background music —  accompaniment for other things. Take that into consideration.

bohren & der club of gore sunset mission

BOLO:                     

Opening track Prowler is just about as perfect a modern noir-jazz tune as I’ve ever heard. Yes, the noir classics are timeless for a reason, and this track doesn’t reach those dizzying heights. But neither is it trying to. Taken at face value, this song, more than any of the others on the album, just exudes that cool Twin Peaks-ish vibe.

The third track Midnight Walker makes me miss playing saxophone. Incredibly low-fi and slow, this is jazz at its most relaxed and contemplative. The sax takes center stage throughout most of the runtime and is simply divine.

At over sixteen minutes, Nightwolf is not a song you just throw on willy-nilly. It may seem repetitious (I mean, it is), but that’s not a bad thing when the music is just so silky-smooth. This one would make a great slow dance track, where you can get lost for quite some time in the embrace of a special someone.

CONCLUSION OF CASE:                     

Music to fall in love to, or to enhance the soundtrack to an existing love that spans decades, Sunset Mission by B&DCoG is about as relaxing and evocative as music gets. I’ve searched all over Spotify and YouTube for similar artists, but I have to admit that nobody quite gets there.

Yes, you can (and should) listen to the Twin Peaks soundtrack, and some of the artists mentioned above get in the vicinity. But B&DCoG is somewhat unique, which is always nice to find.

Jazz for people who hate jazz. That’s the best way I could describe B&DCoG in six words or less.

If you need some sultry music to accompany your life, your own private score which, ahem, underscores your life, then Bohren & Der Club of Gore (and especially this album) would certainly fit the bill. Highly recommended.

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