Escape into Vertigo Days
The German jazzy, electro-rock band The Notwist have released their first studio album in about six years. The new release, Vertigo Days, has a piece of every genre the band has tried, from metal to jazz rock. Each song melts into the next, creating a Sufjan Stevens-esque sound; it’s one giant 46-minute song, because it all comes together to mean something whole. The band themselves have said that the album’s lyrics “feel like one long poem.”
Listening to Vertigo Days is like taking a walk in an enchanted forest that will lead you to lands unknown. It reels people in with the first song, a quirky instrumental, “Al Norte,” before blending into “Into Love/Stars.” This song is melancholy, as it starts with a minimalistic piano, and it’s followed by a futuristic electronic beat.
Another stand out song is “Where You Find Me.” Unlike the other songs on the album, there isn’t a smooth transition that connects this song with the prior one. “Where You Find Me” is truly its own masterpiece. It’s a lightheartedly sad song, and the chorus sticks with you: “it’s where you find me now, again and again.” The final beat of the song is elongated into the next, “Ship.” This song, featuring Saya, is particularly delightful, if not a bit unsettling, including a combination of high pitched voices that flutter around the mysterious beat. With headphones, the little voices sound like fairies trying to whisper in your ear.
Towards the middle of the album is where people see the band’s experience with jazz. “Into The Ice Age,” featuring Angel Bat Dawid, has a funky beat leading listeners about halfway through the song before shifting to a very intense heartbeat sound. Notes of jazzy flutes and other instruments are heard throughout the introduction, but the real sultry jazz sound comes through at the end. As it plays out, the notes become stretched out, shifting the jazzy tone from sweet to sour. This song fades into “Oh Sweet Fire,” featuring Ben LaMar Gay, which can only be described as a haunting homage to the devil. It’s in this song that the band’s past in metal really comes through, not in the sound but in the dark lyrics: “we chant and we roar, the sound of drums reflecting off buildings as high as the fist that has risen.”
Past “Oh Sweet Fire,” the album actually becomes quite lighthearted. The transitional song “Ghost” is a curious little instrumental that bleeds into the upbeat, acoustic-sounding “Sans Soleil.” The sweet lyrics make it seem as if there’s some sort of alien love story afoot: “and step by step I roam, the planet that you call home.” The ring of a tambourine makes it feel like a light spring day.
The album ends with “Al Sur” and “Into Love Again.” If “Al Sur” doesn’t sound like English at first, that’s because it isn’t. Juana Molina, an Argentinian musician, is featured on the song. It starts off with an upbeat sound complimented by an electric sounding voice. “Into Love Again,” referencing the second song on the album and featuring Zayaendo, almost feels like a bookend. The beginning of the song is long-winded and romantic. It’s sadder and wiser than its predecessor, and this time there’s more to say, like falling in love again. The backing vocalizations add to the solemness of it all, leaving the listener to rethink their entire journey through this album.
Vertigo Days takes people on a trip through the stars, the fiery pits of hell and a mystical forest all in one album. It’s perfect if people need a way to escape, and right now, people need somewhere else to go.