The debut album of Düsseldorf’s Todeskino (which possibly translates as “death cinema”) opens with beauty and sadness in neoclassical widescreen: choir pads swirled in synthesised strings, piano notes like droplets into unstirred lakes, melodies that wring the emotive polarity of major and minor keys. The record continues and the richness persists, channeled into recordings of children or birdsong, flung into piano melodies that flutter like the hems of dresses, infused into synths that beam in primary colours.
Yet of course, it’s never quite that simple. The record’s true hues are encapsulated in the vocal sample that emerges partway through the opening track, with a simple “I love you” uttered amidst downpouring rain and the scuffs of worn tape. Simple sentiment collides with the whims of weather and inexorable decay. And then there’s the photo on the cover, showing a woman at a Sadie Hawkins dance in 1987 – youthful joy versus fading celluloid. That’s why the overtly beautiful pieces here – that opening track, the delicate dancing lights of “We Were Blameless”, the mere minute of piano and flutes on “Sally Hawkins, 1987” – are all cut with a deep melancholy, enacted either through the lo-fi interference that dims their glimmer, or the fatalistic shadow hanging over anything that glimmers so much in the first place. And that’s without mentioning the tracks that roll entirely into the shadow, such as the moonlit interlacing of guitars on “Sample Dream Journals”. Nothing can stay ideal forever.