The sticker on the front of my promo of Superpitcher’s second album describes Aksel Schaufler as “Cologne’s melancholy techno-pop maestro”. It has been about six years since the first Superpitcher album, but Schaufler’s worldview doesn’t appear to have improved much. If Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor sometimes comes across as an indie boy lost on the dancefloor, Schaufler’s persona is akin to a sociopath on the verge of a panic attack.

The sticker on the front of my promo of Superpitcher’s second album describes Aksel Schaufler as “Cologne’s melancholy techno-pop maestro”. It has been about six years since the first Superpitcher album, but Schaufler’s worldview doesn’t appear to have improved much. If Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor sometimes comes across as an indie boy lost on the dancefloor, Schaufler’s persona is akin to a sociopath on the verge of a panic attack.



“Walking down the street, all alone,” begins the first single, and degenerates from there, to a height of blank despair which involves “everybody’s always too drunk. To fuck.” Built around this, the music is quite magnificent: an ornate expansion of the Kompakt label’s microhouse/minimal techno aesthetic, which steps tentatively into new territories. So while the instrumental “Moon Fever” is a gorgeous trinket, very much in the style of the cosmic music box pieces found on the “Pop Ambient” comps, “Voodoo” and the title track of “Kilimanjaro” are odd, skanking beasts, digi-dub endeavours somewhere in the neighbourhood of another German production outfit, Rhythm & Sound.

“Black Magic”, meanwhile, is a luxe, jet-trash-friendly iteration of minimal techno, still retaining the wounded romance of Superpitcher’s melodic default setting even amidst all the finely-tooled sonic giltwork.

Svelte, lovely music throughout, then, but I’m sure Schaufler’s voice and his lyrics – nagging, repetitive, often so facile that, intoned again and again, they take on a kind of surrealist tinge – will prove to be a sticking point with people. There are moments when the wounded indie boy schtick becomes a distraction: on “Country Boy”, the way he drawls “Black sheep of the family” reminds me unaccountably of Luke Haines.

But then, again, the whole thing can work wonderfully. “Kilimanjaro”’s stand-out track, at least after the first half-dozen listens, feels like “Friday Night”, a sleek and faintly menacing piece – echoes of Fever Ray, perhaps – that begins with Schaufler bleating, “It’s Friday night, and I’m not dancing.”

This goes on for a bit, until he expands on his issues. “Sugar girl where are you now?” he ponders, before disconsolately concluding, “Probably smoking blow.” All the while, the fabulous music is building up momentum, so that by the time it starts peaking (about five minutes in), a chorus of bored girls have arrived to chant, “Lack of entertainment” over and over again. Pathetic, and very funny, and quite the best track I’ve heard in a while.