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music for cities.

These two releases by German experimental rap/hip-hop duo Sichtbeton are, to me, the epitome of “urban music”. No, not 50 Cent or Snoop Dogg or whatever, but a German duo rapping in a language I can’t fucking understand.

I’m not making this observation on a lyrical basis since, as I mentioned, I can’t understand any of the lyrics. Rather, this observation is strictly based on the music. Mighty fine music, at that.

The drums roll on and on in mostly laid-back patterns/melodies, forming the backbone of the songs and holding them together while field recordings, orchestral swells and plenty of pretty schmaltzy/kitsch (synth) melodies float around the compositions as if it were the most natural thing ever. It’s this diversity coupled with the fine choice of samples and field recordings that brings to mind life in the city.

Particularly, I’m always reminded of nights in the city, walking and just enjoying the sights, tinted orange under streetlights while people mill around, each in their own world, their own personal bubble. The city at night has this certain appeal to me that it just doesn’t have (at all) during the day, it’s almost as if it changes into a different set of clothes at night.

But it’s not all beauty and schmaltzy strings. There are some disturbing (in contrast) moments on their LP that, when the album is taken as a whole, perfectly illustrate the dichotomy at the heart of the city itself: there’s beauty, but there’s also danger, oppression, discomfort and one’s fair share of unsavoury characters.

If anyone’s played Metropolis Street Racer for the Dreamcast, well, THAT’s what the music of Sichtbeton reminds me of. Not the game itself, but the game’s settings. The city. At night. Near dawn. In the evening.

Writing that previous paragraph sort of “jogged” my memory, reminding me of the bus trips I used to take up to Perlis during the school holidays. Those bus rides were always overnight (10pm – 7am, give or take an hour or so) and we’d invariably go through some towns just before dawn, when the streets were empty and the shops were closed, the streetlights illuminating nothing but empty sidewalks and streets, the traffic lights rendered useless by the sheer lack of traffic.

Sichtbeton is for those moments.

Their music would lend itself wonderfully well to an arthouse-type film set in the city, regardless of time. If I ever get the equipment, I might actually do something like that.


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