It is not every day that I am speechless in front of new music. However, the mad geniuses behind the French-based band Suess broke my inner mechanisms. 10 der größten Schlagerhits aller Zeiten is the group’s debut album, standing tall with thirty-four minutes that feels like hours. I don’t know how to describe the sounds found therein, other than they are based off of the Schlager music genre in some way.
This is an unlistenable mess… to most, if not all. However, it did strike me, oddly. I thought it was the “so bad it’s good” thing, that some people seem to enjoy, but I was utterly fascinated by this hesitating, wicked soundtrack. On the other hand, I can’t say it’s not “bad”. In a way, being bad is just failing to meet the requirements and expectations of a certain standardized “good”, especially in music. Avant-garde artists often check the same boxes. This is perhaps why Igor Stravinsky’s “Le sacre du printemps” was received with an uproar of laughters on May 29, 1913 in Paris. Today, however, this composition is revered in classical music, and justly so: it didn’t try to fulfill the expectations people had towards it; instead, it tried something new, something risky. There’s a parallel to be drawn, too, with the first screening of “The Room”, the legendarily bad movie, except that, instead of more than a hundred years of hindsight, we have but fifteen; for Suess, we have not a fortnight.
10 der größten Schlagerhits aller Zeiten goes against many musical tropes commonly accepted as being part of any “good” music; some would say any music, period. No instrument nor singer seems to follow the same metronome, or any at all, for that matter. The synthesized drums’ patterns are stochastic and unpredictable, but so are the other artificial instruments; namely what sounds like accordion and tuba, which are as dysmorphic as the percussions, and sound as though they are based on dodecaphonic theory (whether it was intended or not). Ariadne’s thread, in this case helping us navigate the ever-morphing sonic labyrinth, is the singer’s melodies. Though they are barely tonal, and care little about the tuning standards and intonation expectations listeners might have, they are a driving force that pulls us through the abstract landscapes it seems to know so well. Even the voice, however, has its own traps ready for the humans who dare wander here. Indeed, the malefic twin to the main singer lies in deep, down-pitched and possibly backwards vocals, which add to the surreal experience.
Suess today is to music what cubism was a hundred years ago to painting. Observe, deconstruct, and reassemble the pieces in an effort of abstraction. Suess looked at music, more specifically at Schlager music, ripped it apart, and put the pieces back together, abstracted, where different viewpoints and timelines are equal. This is a tough album to go through, I’ll admit it—it throws everything I held for granted out the window—but it has an inescapable attraction. Is it morbid curiosity, or the pull to the centre of a black hole? Will it destroy me, or lead me to greater answers? Will they be answers, or only more questions?
I have no idea what to recommend, but I did make a similar experiment, a while ago in metal (which I strongly intend to continue).