Rising German electronic post punk duo, Lea Porcelain release their debut album “Hymns To The Night” on 16th June 2017. Unusually to accompany the album they have also released a short introductory film “This Is Lea Porcelain. A Portrait by Ramon Haindl”. It’s an intimate visual portrait of the band living and recording in Funkhaus Berlin – a broadcasting house which was created under Soviet supervision that now houses the world’s biggest recording studio – even bigger than Abbey Road’s Studio 1.
The London via Berlin duo, made up of Julien Bracht and Markus Nikolaus first unleashed their debut EP “Out Is In” in the summer of 2016 which created a buzz around the local music scene as well as critical acclaim from the industry. 2017 has seen the band performing in a series of rapturously received live residency shows across London, Berlin and Paris. Before becoming Lea Porcelain, Bracht and Nikolaus were working within different musical fields. Bracht was a successful techno producer and Nikolaus a respected independent musician. The pair met at their favourite club in their hometown of Frankfurt back in 2012.
Sonically, their sound is reminiscent of the dystopian darkness of early Manchester, not unlike Joy Division ( who are a clear influence) - but they have formed their own identity by crossing post punk with electronica to create a sound rich in dark synths and brooding guitar lines. Opening track “Out Is In” is a vibrant, feisty introduction with military-style drumming, vibrating guitars and heavy synthesizers that provide drama and menace. It’s a punchy opener and one of the best tracks on the album. “Bones” is next – the outstanding track of the album - It is, quite honestly ACE.
The band say, “This song is a human confession facing the fact that we can’t shake off who we are, who our family is (“Bones”) or denying where we come from, where we go to and who we fall in love with. No matter if healthy or destructive, no one is born or falls in love by choice.” Listening to this song it’s easy to spot nods to The Cure and The XX – largely due to the fact that the song is jam packed full of cinematic echo-filled soundscapes. There are melancholic emotional swells of synth and distorted guitars which seem to encourage the synth to mourn. It’s a sweeping, atmospheric piece of work and wouldn’t sound out of a place on a Cure album. It’s quite simply epic and expansive, beautiful and brilliant. “A Year From Here” continues from “Bones” sonically apart from the fact there is a bright “ukulele” beat hooked on repeat throughout which gives the song a lightness while still retaining that post punk haze. It sounds like an odd coupling but it really works.
“Similar Familiar” arrives with a woozy, hypnotising heavy dense beat, with that dystopian feel very much evident – it’s edgy and intense with amplified rhythms of reverb. It’s a great guitar fuelled/ electronic song with a pumping pulsating beat that drives the song with attitude. There’s a captivating video too – Lea Porcelain revealing real talent in making their videos cool and interesting. “Remember” is the latest release from the album and it’s another beauty. Shattered percussion accompanies the rolling surge of synth and it has tenderness without losing the darkness – as all the best love songs do. “Loose Life” is the surprise. It’s one of those songs that doesn’t have an obvious appeal but can be rewarded with repeated listens. The production is excellent – there are layers of percussion, thumping beats and it has a real “punk-pulse” which makes the song twisted and oddly enticing.
In between, “Warsaw Street”, “A Far Away Land” and “10th-12th Of September” all shape the album with dense, dark, beautiful atmospheres.
“Endlessly” ends the album – this song carries a notable U2 sound due to the sparkling, spiralling guitar intro and the emotional and yearning vocal. The song builds and builds in intensity, with backing “oohh ohhhhs” which add a strong but ethereal vibe, until the stirring thump of the drum for the last minute brings the song to a climax until the fire is put out and all you are left with is that gorgeous spiral of guitar bringing the album to a close. “Hymns to the Night” is aptly titled – it’s an album to be listened to in the cover of darkness. It has a real musical landscape that evokes a post-punk legacy but it’s also evolved, thrilling and uplifting. Immerse yourself into this one and wait for dawn to come.