5.56am

Lord, lord. Sounds like any other day, sounds like any old day.
(The Nomad Song, The Stroer Duo with Howard Fine)

Google returns three hits on them, none of which are relevant. A brilliant conflation of ahead of its time jazz and electronics and a unique and poetic lyrical sensibility. It’s the ‘lord, lord’ spoken in a measured tone with a hint of weariness that I’ve picked up from that lyric. The only other line I can recall is “We cut the map with Occam’s razor.” I’d quote the thing in full, except that it’s not there on the internet – oh wondrous, but fallible system – and the recording is vinyl-only, it came out on Mood Records based in Munich when I lived there ooooh how long ago? 18 years ago. Lord, lord. It sits upstairs in the cupboard where Is is sleeping, while my Leak Truespeed record deck gathers dust on top of the cupboard. Same River Twice (which seemed to be about geology and repetition), Arecibo Bag (concerning the messages the earth is releasing into deep space via radio waves and the possibility that there might be some form of life that might consume those waves like a whale consumes krill), there was a short strange track like a bad dream about stalks and being pursued.

What a first week back at work. I’m working hard, but I’m a part of the darkness – rising in darkness before 6.30, arriving at work at 7.30, leaving a little after 4 just as it gets dark – time has concertina’ed down and I’m tired by the time Amy and Gabriel are asleep and the evening’s arrived. Such an existence feels unnatural. I’ve taken on the Fine Art Guild work so I’m going to have to work through the evenings until the end of January when the deadline is. Hey ho. Oh and we’ve got to work out what we’re doing with the rest of our lives…

Later… (12.51pm)

Is is up and gone with Amy and Gabriel to Oxford. Amy has been to ballet, Gabriel is surely still wearing his Captain Scarlet cap (with roundel ‘S’ badge sellotaped to its peak) in the car at this moment. I’m working on the Fine Art Trade Guild site, implementing wireframe templates, draft navigation, etc. Except that I’m on my tea break and have just popped upstairs to the bedroom and recovered the two lps I was thinking about earlier:

  • Stroer Duo (there should be an umlaut on the ‘o’) – Fluchtweg Madagaskar (Fluchtweg meaning escape route). This was their first lp dressed in trademark Mood Records (“nur bei Zweitausendeins”) black and white cover and released in 1982. Predominantly instrumental, it kicks off with ‘Vietnam’ which is pure Kruder & Dorfmeister (complete with sample from ‘Musique Mnong Gar du Vietnam’) 15 or so years before they came into being or Coldcut 10 years early.
  • Stroer Duo mit Howard Fine – Nomaden, the second and final lp, again dressed in Mood Records’ b&w. Howard Fine was an American vocalist with an antagonistic tone and an all too rare ability to write lyrics which explored original, stimulating ideas and married them to atmospheric poetry. Waiting to be Carried Out (about the banality of modern travel); the aforementioned Arecibo Bag; Are We Really Going?; Shaman Dances; Same River Twice; Triptych and Running for My Life are what my memory conflated into one track – both nightmarish, the former is about stillness, the latter about pursuit; Nomad Song; When You Stopped Sleeping (“When you stopped sleeping in my bed, I began to sleep diagonally. I turned my head to the north; put my pillow at the north end of the bed. In the morning I found stars scattered round my ears”; A Point In Motion (“A line, a plane, a cube, a tessaract. A to the fourth power, Enlightenment. Don’t turn back, you no longer have a back to turn”); and finally Safe Distances, an ambient, moody masterpiece.

Time to get my record player sorted out.

Sounds like any other day.
Sounds like any old day,
Lord, lord.

Fold the tents and load the camels.
Sandy beach ain’t got no ocean.
We slashed the map with Occam’s razor.
Did we paste it back together wrong?

I don’t recognise this mirror.
And what new birds are these?
Sounds like any other day.
And nothing ever like it.

The map got trampled on the run.
Did we paste the pieces back together wrong?
Where’s the next interstate?
Got a six pack or some dates?
Are you our waitress?
Pain in my joints.
Looks like a dusty oasis.

This place is a new place.
Just like the old place;
looks like any other place
like any old place.

Where are you now Ernst and Hans P. Stroer? And Howard Fine? And my old friends Florian Achthaler (who introduced me to this music) and Andy Appel? I hope life is treating you well.


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