Record Review: Denmantau – Street Pulse

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Published on July 29th, 2013 | by Anna Warnaby

Record Review: Denmantau – Street Pulse

Denmantau – Street PulseOn a sunny street corner in Nice in 2011, I stumbled across the nomadic, German-born jazz-folk 5-piece, Denmantau. Despite the heat, I found my way into the crowd of roughly 30 listeners that they had accumulated – a number unheard of for most buskers on that street, who were probably in a sulk at having been upstaged by such talented musicians for the day. The fact that they sang in English was proving no problem to a predominantly French audience, but allowed me to fully appreciate the lyrics. Everyone was happy – tapping and clapping along with the beat, creating a buzz of energy around the band and a magnetism which pulled in yet more curious tourists. The only thing to escape their magnetic field was the intoxicating sound that drifted out of the trumpet and across the Place Masséna; lofty notes carried right up to the hinged shutters of the sun-kissed buildings opposite.

 

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Two years later, research has revealed that Denmantau are still touring Europe with their self-styled brand of “trumpet rock” and happy-go-lucky attitude towards being a musicians – their website describing them as “a bunch of best friends travelling through the world, making music on the street, meeting people, enjoying life”.  After winning Europe’s largest non-profit newcomer contest in 2011, this band has gone from strength to strength, releasing their first officially-recorded studio album, Street Pulse. This seems a fitting title, for a group of travelling musicians who clearly enjoy the constant thrill of performance and their relentless movement creates a backing rhythm of their own. It is evident that Denmantau are so much more than your common, everyday buskers. It is their genuine passion for music which has already propelled these guys through Australia, New Zealand and central Europe, with a grand total of 2500 gigs under their belt to date. Travelling, as it was for Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, is undeniably formative in a musician’s early years, providing a wealth of experience that the young guys of Denmantau will find useful to draw upon when writing their next album.

The opening track of Street Pulse – “Crystal Clear” – showcases lead singer Paul’s powerful, gravelly vocals and exudes a vibe of teenage angst (think German Morrissey?), with a bizarre video which ends with his face tied up in knitting wool. Despite the wool, his voice is exceptionally strong and unique, and one might even stretch to using the word sublime, when he sings the line “moving slowly media, corporation and euphoria” (you’ll have to hear it to see what I mean). This song effortlessly brings trumpet music into the 21st century, to a younger audience who would scoff at a brass instrument under any other circumstances. My personal favourite, however, is “Sail The Ley Line” – even more powerful; lyrics even more nonsensical, and an even catchier riff. Other gems from the album include the atmospheric “Wicked Birds” and melancholic “Harvest”.

Every facet of Denmantau’s style – sound, lyrics and visuals – is incredibly unique, and with an album as enjoyable as Street Pulse, I decree that they have the right to perform on any street in the world… but preferably mine!