Having emerged a couple of months ago with “Boiler Suits & Combat Boots”, London-based trans-European band The Umlauts have given us another taste of what’s to come on their forthcoming debut EP, Ü. The new song is called “Energy Plan”, and they say:
“Energy Plan is a misinterpretation of a quote from Joseph Beuys (‘Energy plan for the western man’) and is written from the perspective of a woman frustrated by the everyday. The lack of empathy she receives culminates in her anger at the apathetic energy exerted by others into relationships.”
Once again built atop a mesmerising smatter of electronic beats and synthetic textures, “Energy Plan” slowly but grippingly grows into a luminous industrial stormer that sounds like the rhythms of a nuclear power station all clicking into step to create a cavernous and imperial sound. In tandem with this gradual build, Annabelle Mödlinger speaks in monotone German, an intriguing contrast with the activity of the production, and one that makes the quietly simmering frustration in her voice all the more tangible. The Umlauts’ continual addition of more buzzing and percolating tones builds tension, and “Energy Plan” feels like it’s reaching a boiling point. Their practiced patience pays off when it does finally reach that explosive apex, where Mödlinger finally cracks and yells out her true feelings into their bubbling cauldron of kosmische. It’s electrifying.
On the video for “Energy Plan”, director Clara Atkinson says:
“Thinking about the lyrics ‘energy plan for the western man’, we wanted to tap into that atmosphere of intense consumption and instant gratification — everything processed and ready straight away — microwave meals, tinned food, the flow of electricity as the humming backdrop to our homes. The microwave became a kind of hybrid singing-machine, where you select a track and the disembodied head sings it on demand. It starts off relatively normal but then something flips inside the machine and we enter the power grid, where the distinction between the microwav-ing and microwave-d subjects falls apart and everyone is just flashes of electricity floating around. For a moment, things are disrupted. But then at the last minute order is restored and the head is firmly back inside the microwave, ready to be plated up and served for dinner.”