Wechsel Garland Easy

[Karaoke Kalk; 2006]

Styles: electronic, folktronic, indie
Others: The Books, The Notwist, TG Mauss

German artist Jorg Follert has been using the alias Wechsel Garland on some of his musical output over the past six years. His latest album, Easy, the third under the Garland moniker, is very much an exercise in subdued electronica with a slight nod toward more exotic instrumentation here and there. It moves along unassumingly enough, which is both its blessing and its curse. In a sense, the album may be a perfect chill-out record for those moments when you want something undemanding as your soundtrack, yet it's really too undemanding to be that. Even the most minimal stuff that I like as background music for when I'm reading or just trying to relax – take Jan Jelinek, for example – needs to offer something unique to keep me going back to it. With Jelinek, it's his knack for twisting the most unassuming electronic detritus into something soothing and intoxicating, with his occasionally masterful employments of melodies bubbling underneath the surface. Unfortunately, Follert offers no such unexpected pleasures – just the tolerability of the inoffensive.

I realize that this sounds harsh, and honestly, it's really hard to dump on a chap that comes across as so cordial and polite. I can say that I think his stuff works best when he bows out as a vocalist. A sterling example of this is "Waves," where he incorporates slide guitar and strings to make a lush, but all-too-brief, instrumental track that could fit nicely alongside The Beach Boys' "Diamond Head" as a beautiful faux-Hawaiian moment. Simply put, his voice is very, well, bland. It seems like he's attempting the hushed sway of Erlend Oye, but that's a tough mark to hit convincingly. At his worst, he ends up sounding almost robotic, destroying the relaxed ease of the instrumental bed, such as in "White Circle" (his attempt at laid-back reggae) or "Easy" (where he sorta scats in the beginning). My feeling is that Follert would be better served to work solo instrumentally or else recruit some guest vocalists. But even then I'd hope that he'd enlist some stronger melodies to make his work more captivating. For now, Easy is far too easy to forget.

1. Walker
2. Waves
3. White Circle
4. Swim
5. Get Over It
6. ABC to Be
7. Don't Look Now
8. Corona Loco (Look at Me)
9. Be, Baby (The Sea)
10. Mutes
11. Stones
12. Easy

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