- Fantasy - - 2000-08-15
- Profane - - 2001-04-10
“... the lone funsters in the Kitty-Yo stable of brooding instrumentalists, easily besting the Chicago school of post-rock mathletes.” — Jason Gross, Spin
“somewhere between functional energy and expressive groove... similar to Tortoise but with the important distinction of not being dull.” — Mike Wolf, Time Out New York
‘Profane’ is Couch’s 4th album, and their first release that’s simultaneously coming out in the US and overseas. Couch’s last record ‘Fantasy’ was their first in the US, reissued on Matador a year after its considerable impact in the UK and Germany.
With ‘Profane,’ Couch continue to expand their vision as a purely instrumental band. For the first time they add double bass, horns, strings and sometimes - no guitar. Still, they don¹t say bye-bye to rock, and make no attempts toward orchestral bombast or pop ‘sophistication.’ It¹s minimal music but it rocks and swings. Almost no other band adds raw rock sounds — without irony — to calmer jazzy tracks in such a way and still keeps it distinctly unified.
Couch’s untitled 1995 vinyl-only debut and its successor ‘Etwas Benutzen’ (1997) threw Couch straight into the center of a musical awakening happening between Weilheim, Munich and Berlin. With 1999¹s ‘Fantasy,’ they added keyboards and left behind the more traditional guitar/bass/drum sound.
Structurally and contentwise, ‘Fantasy’ was a liquid pop sketch, on which Couch still had to address certain issues surrounding instrumental music. ‘Profane,’ by contrast, is rather unsocial but completely grounded and visceral. With unhip production, authentic percussion, and rough edges, this record is the right sound for the right moment (or they just don’t give a...). Car music for the new 20 year-olds.
Couch is not about replaying electronic music or replacing the song. Instead, they find an unusual peace agreement between abstraction and melody and manage the stunt with both feet on the floor.
“‘Fantasy’ is Couch’s third album of elegant, electronically-enhanced analogue instrumentals, taking us on a journey of warmth and depth without the utterance of a word.” — Darren Johns, NME
The first domestic release of this remarkable album, released last year on the German label Kitty-Yo (Tarwater, To Rococo Rot). Couch will have a new record out on Matador in early 2001.
translated from the German:
‘Fantasy’ is the 3rd album by the Munich band Couch. Before taking a breath, this band has been around for almost half a decade. Their untitled 95er Vinyl-only Debut and its successor ‘Etwas Benutzen’ (1997) threw Couch straight into the center of a musical awakening, happening between Weilheim, Munich and Berlin.
Although the Post-Rock-Hype has not affected their doings up to this day, the band has played over 100 concerts at home and abroad and thus left the quite pragmatic guitar/ bass/ drums-sound — which they had defined for them on ‘Etwas benutzen’ — a great piece behind them. With the keyboards now grown to be a foursome, the new Couch-songs leave startingly great space to breathe, happen to be astoundingly friendly and courteous (“Heimweg 78”, “Übrig”) and nevertheless again and again produce energy that rocks, occasionally comes even way too close (as in “Gegen den”).
This is not about replaying electronic music or replacing the song (by a track) as, in the meanwhile, half of the Pop-Empire claims to be its duty. Instead, Couch find an unusual peace-agreement between abstraction and melody and manage the stunt to put ‘Fantasy’ with both feet on the floor. If previously, Couch would crash your door and take up your household within seconds, at least they knock the door these days before getting in.
* Michael Heilrath’s solo electronic project Blond just released its debut on Payola, and he’s working with Alles Wie Gross on an album for Kollaps/ Hausmusik.
* Stefanie Böhm released a 4-track-single for Hausmusik under the name of Ms. John Soda, and is bassist and singer for Subatomic.
* Jürgen Söder is also the guitarist for the other Munich Kollaps/Kitty-Yo band Schwermut Forest.
Stefanie Böhm (keyboards)
Thomas Geltinger (drums)
Michael Heilrath (bass)
Jürgen Söder (guitar)
06/12/01 — For those about to miss the boat, we give you the one-finger salute. Couch’s 4th album (2nd for us), ‘Profane’ has been out a couple of months, and if you consider yourself any sort of a well-informed, smart person with good taste-in-daring-sounds, you’ve either already bought the album, stolen it or made a copy of it. Or at the very least checked it out. But we’re pretty sure you haven’t, not yet. Our friend Richard Martin at the Seattle Weekly says of ‘Profane’: "guitarist Juergen Soder, keyboardist Stefanie Bohm and their mates succeed again, sping complex rhythms and hidden melodies, straying into fascinating jams." The equally observant Michael Endelman of the Boston Phoenix says, "Couch arrive at a state of suspended animation, somewhere between Sonic Youth’s ‘Daydream Nation’ and Tortoise’s 20 minute epic ‘Djed.’" Sounds right up your alley, right? We can sit here twisting your arm all day or you can download "Slogan" and get a hint of why we’re all bent out of shape.
Couch just completed their first U.S. tour. Here, in unedited form, is Juergen Soder’s tour diary:
new york: with fellow kitty-yo’s peaches and gonzales who made the knitting factory sold out two times that evening. aha: these people from the I-D/Face fashion pages actually exist. we were happy that our equipment arrived in time. let’s not talk about the second show: the audience consisted of raik+patrick from kitty-yo, donovan from matador and david grubbs.
amherst: with trans am who brought their own beer and immediately put it on ice in a drum-case (good idea!). we learned that college-shows are only good for money (sorry, at least that’s what everyone told us). our attempt to attend a college-party with the fitting title "bavarian party" failed dramatically because the booze was all gone.
boston: first headlining show with to quite good local support bands. a women purchased 2 couch shirts: one for her and one for her daughter. which we thought was quite flattering.
montreal: illegal bordercrossing without work permit is nothing we can really recommend. the border guy looked up "couch" in the internet and actually found some things but we were pretending that some other band stole our name. and stupid enough: it did work out. casa del popolo, a nice small club/vegeterian restaurant run by godspeed member mauro, was packed and we didn’t try to speak french.
toronto: with local postrocker white starliner. just a very good show. canada was good to us!
detroit: everyone was telling us: "you are going to see the real america here." obviously the meant the crackheads parading on the streets. gold dollar is a great rock club with three surveillance cameras controling the parking lot and you can check them from the stage while playing. other band: black rebel motor cycle club. poor major bands have to bring their own microphones, light and fog (?). moreover: good detroit based band paik. the attempt to party was crashed by a guy at the best western who made us check in for hours and hours. our keyboarder stephanie forgets all her stuff and a little fedex drama begins but was brought to a good end by donovan.
chicago: noise pop festival with l’altra. we met the booker who ended up not booking us. good show. 5 people in the front row seemed to make notes of michaels finger-movements. scary! the booker who doesn’t book us invited us to the autechre show and we finally got to hear some death metal.
minneapolis: early show as support for bevis frond and michael something from soul coughin. this place was huge. driving days: wow. north dakota is pretty flat, montana is awesome. we passed by white cloud the albino buffalo and got to see some wild life and waterfalls in yellowstone national park.
seattle: with dub narcotic. calvin wears a cowboy hat and dub narcotic got a great new drummer. our show was one of the best of the tour. we stay at calvin’s in olympia and the k people show us their universe and supply us with candies, purses, gloves and good vibrations.
portland: opening for andy smith from portishead as dj. nice but a bit overstyled club without liquor license. why do americans WATCH dj’s spin?
san francisco: we meet our booker christian from the kork agency. very nice. even if he almost kills us in a car accident while showing us around in sf. we open for bevis frond for the second time. these guys are funny! we stay at christian’s who is living next to a crack dealer with a pitbull called "sin." But christian also got a pitbull.
los angeles: we got 20 minutes to see the beach of santa monica. we meet jay from the matador office who has to bring back our car in a 5 day ride. good luck jay! last show. we can’t believe it. This was great.
10/19/00 —The magic of Television.
Not the band, the idiot box. And they don’t call it an idiot box because it looks like Richard Lloyd. Teevee addicts can catch the strains of Live Human’s “Elephant’s Bliss” and Cat Power’s “Salty Dog” on an upcoming episode of the Fox program “Freaky Links.” I’ve not seen it myself, swearing off all television until “Shasta McNasty” comes back on the air.
Also, the music of Couch was recently selected to serve as the instrumental backing for an advertisement touting the virtues of the Fleet Banking empire. Seeing as these financial wizards already affixed their name to the replacement for the venerable Boston Garden, we are hoping that this Couch deal is the first step in eventually selling the naming writes to Matador’s New York offices. It might be a bit of a tongue teaser for Shelby to have to say “Matador Records at The Fleet Towers” every time the phone rings, but we could really use the money. If the other tenants have a problem with it, screw ’em, that’s why we’re on the top floor.
09/22/00 — A report from that mysterious place where creative things happen
“we were in the studio, are in the studio, are a studio? anyway, we are working on the follow up release for ‘fantasy.’ two and a half weeks of recording real drums, fake organs, bass, guitars, double-bass, cello, piano, yamaha DX 7... are finished. everything is now stored on a 18 gigabyte harddisk we bought from the matador-millions and naturally everything what happens to this material from now on is more than secret. but at least we can reveal: couch mastermind michael heilrath is still busy making safety copies...”
06/06/00 — Couch Tour Diary
“Back from Poland, it was really nice and really mediterranean (30 degrees), no car theft, no self burned vodka. And we slept in a training center for prison employees.” We’ve always heard that Poland had less car theft this time of year, and now we know for sure.
05/25/00 — As if our summer wasn’t overcrowded enough, we are also pleased to announce the license of one of our favorite albums from 1999, ‘Fantasy,’ the 3rd album from Munich instrumentalists Couch. While owing a considerable debt to the obvious German rock heavyweights that we all know and love (and we don’t mean Accept), Couch’s winning combination of carefully built tension, shifting textures and pure aggression sounds instantly familiar and totally new, all at the same time.
Couch are working on new recordings for release in 2001.