Tse Tse – Land in Sicht (Medical Records, April 2015)

With the likes of Deutsche Wertarbeit, Der Plan and Christof Glowalla in their catalogue, Seattle’s Medical Records clearly has a way with the Neue Deutsch Welle archive, and notably with those artists whose connections to prog are particularly audible, and who make a mission out of digging out novel routes around synth-pop. Tse Tse’s Land in Sicht has been sitting in the vaults since 1983, when it came out on the small but rather interesting Neuland Tonträger. This reissue from Medical opens up yet another path in the dark green plaines of NDW (and the record’s dark green, too).

Cheaply and instinctively home-made by Claas Mehlhop and Clement Hülse (one a classically trained flutist, one had recently been kicked out of a punk band), Land in Sicht manages to juxtapose a nervous, brash, youthful sentimentality with a masterful control of gloomy cinematic atmospheres, the whole thing peppered with reoccurring folky – and in fact even churchy – melodies. As a condiment to all of this, Tse Tse mastered the art of extracting the ghost out of very cheap equipment (Casios!) and Land in Sicht seems to revel in its ability to do things with ten-a-penny sounds. There is a bleakness tinged with a tongue-in-cheekness here, but less cynical than a lot of NDW, almost teenage. Rewarding and surprising little record.