After running the rule over Tiergarten’s second album ‘Bluemass’ last year I reached the conclusion that musically they are one of Norway’s best-kept secrets. I see no reason to change that assessment.
This latest single, ‘Lulu’, which was released on 15th September, is a precursor to a third album, release date as yet unrevealed. Can they retain the high standards of ‘Bluemass’ and its predecessor ‘Oslo Exit Baby’? I challenge them to disappoint me.
To recap briefly Tiergarten consists of Mats Rybø, who formed Tiergarten in 2014, and acts as a vocalist, sharing those duties mainly with Trine Skullestad Hølland, and also Anne Marit Bergheim. Anne Marit was a member of Katzenjammer and Mats Rybø wrote the lyrics on at least one of their three albums but that band is regrettably fading into obscurity now so this is the last time I will mention it. The other band members are Odd Kristian Svedal and Stian Sveen.
All members play or have played in other bands, including blue grass bands in two cases
Jonas Kroon, a regular feature in these pages, often produces them but I do not know if he did on this occasion, and Marianne Sveen, once also of Katzenjammer and now ploughing her own furrow as a solo artist, has had a crack at it, too.
As a band they play their cards close to their chest. I can’t find a magazine article about them after 2016. The band name and project vaguely emerged out of “various science fiction in film, film music and book form” according to Mats Rybø and they rarely speak about the meaning behind their songs. Some bands like it that way, to have an aura of mystique about them and as I’ve said before, who am I to question it?
They typically produce an energetic, melodic, electronic synth pop sound. Almost all of them can play synthesisers and there can be as many as five on stage, although that isn’t a record for Norway; I once counted seven plus synth pads at a Highasakite gig in their heyday.
Tiergarten’s music is quite capable of giving you goose bumps, supported by vocals that can be fragile or every bit as powerful as the music. Pop with an attendant rock dynamic as Pitchfork might say. Or something like that.
I was blindsided by the early part of ‘Lulu’ which is funkier than I was expecting and a departure from those all-embracing synth power chords I’ve come to expect but little by little they wheedle their way in, supported by dreamy harmonies and a delightful little flowing keyboard run that smacks of the one in Weyes Blood’s ‘Movies’ until, before you know it, full blown electronic warfare has blown out.
I’m not going to comment on the lyrics without the benefit of a lyric sheet. I know from past experience that Mats Rybø is a skilful wordsmith and the only observations I’ll make are that (1) they’re deep; (2) you’ll be expected to make of them what you will.
Let’s just say that the song starts off with “We’re collapsing/ this poltergeist trying to escape my skin…”
Tiergarten prove once again here that they fill a gap in thoughtful, intelligent, melodic electronic music and I’m looking forward to what they can conjure up this time on this forthcoming album.
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