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Satin Whale - Die Faust In Der Tasche O.S.T CD (album) cover


Satin Whale


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3.23 | 12 ratings

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3 stars There was a time when my record library boasted more than one album by SATIN WHALE. But this rare 1978 soundtrack, the long-forgotten swan song by a group once counted among the more popular acts in Germany, is the only one to have survived the misguided vinyl purges of my wayward youth.

And for good reason. The band's airy-fairy Prog moniker may not have aged well, but their final studio effort is still surprisingly vital, more so than what little I can recall of their earlier output. It shouldn't be surprising to learn that the group once toured in support of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, another second division symphonic outfit neglected not altogether unfairly by posterity. From what I remember, SATIN WHALE was usually content to swim in similar lukewarm waters.

But at least they quit while at the top of their game. This is a strong album, and more aggressive than you might expect from the quartet of neatly groomed German boys pictured on the back cover. It might have been a sign of the times (1978 found a lot of otherwise even-tempered Proggers flexing their underdeveloped muscles in the wake of The Sex Pistols). Or maybe it was just the scenario of the film they were scoring: a post-"Rebel Without A Cause" tale of teenage alienation and urban motorcycle delinquents (judging from the sleeve art).

Like other movie soundtracks it's a sometimes fragmentary variation of one or two themes, with an orphan guitar riff here and an incidental keyboard melody there, plus a bit of hyperventilating flute reminiscent of IAN ANDERSON (or at least THIJS VAN LEER). The curtain raiser, "Die Kündigung" (rough translation: "The Dismissal"; I'm guessing the hero loses his job in the early scenes and falls in with the wrong crowd), sets the mood with a driving 4/4 beat and lots of macho guitar/synthesizer interplay. And the closing number, "Traum und Wirklichkeit" ("Dream and Reality"), offers a funky space-rock workout over a throbbing bass line and a healthy dose of crunchy "Superfly" rhythm guitar work.

In between are a handful of brief, driving instrumentals, with (thankfully) only one attempt at a legitimate song: "Double Up Your Hands", a trite, up-tempo ballad (sung in awkward English) about following your dreams "...on the road to nowhere". Most of the remaining tracks clock in at less than two minutes long, and the whole thing wraps up well short of a half hour. The miserly running time no doubt helps to preserve the dynamic, full-throttle production job, but may also explain why the album hasn't yet re- appeared on compact disc (it would hardly be a bargain at today's extortionate CD prices).

On the other hand, there isn't a moment of wasted space here. And each cut at least presents something close to an actual beginning and end, even when rushing by in a breathless 45 seconds.

This is an album that (likewise) must have come and gone in an all-too brief but incandescent flash. It may not be the sort of lost treasure valued by diehard record collectors, but I'm grateful just to be able to dust it off for an occasional spin on my (so far) trusty old analogue turntable. Sometimes the music itself is its own reward.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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