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Track Previews

01. Test Me (feat. Ursula Rucker)
02. Skyscrapers
03. Summer Days (feat. Bajka)
04. World
05. Isarwellen
06. Hope (feat. Bajka)
07. Home
08. Therma
09. Move
10. Stop Or Go (feat. Bajka)
11. Last Exit
12. Midnight

Four years have passed since the release of Berlin Serengeti, the debut
album from producer Niko Schabel and friends, aka Radio Citizen. His
first album was an all-out assault of electronic music armed with
organic tentacles that reached far into an eclectic bag of rough jazz
and worldly funk. It not only caught the ears of tastemaker DJs and
press (“It leaps dozens of genres in a single bound, digs up all those
old sounds I love, fits them together, and erects a temple to pop's
melting pot” - PITCHFORK) but also wound up in movies and TV shows as
varied as Grey's Anatomy, Californication, and this summer’s blockbuster

Schabel creates music that balances being accessible and
exciting by way of his ability to blend the electronic with the
organic. On Berlin Serengeti he seamlessly glued-together a loose
collage of sampled textures and embellished them with gifted musicians
and vocalists. On Hope and Despair he takes an even headier blend of
raucous live instrumentation and works it into gritty songs and walls of
sound with deft mixing and subtle studio trickery all rooted by
heavyweight bass lines. His mass ensemble of musical friends often
performs together in the Radio Citizen live show that developed after
the release of the first album. Their unified musical prowess is
reflected in the soloing, the harmonies, and all the interactions, that
lift Hope and Despair above its predecessor.

“Hope and Despair
has many more layers of sound, there's more to discover,” says Schabel.
“If the Berlin Serengeti album was 8mm, Hope and Despair is cinemascope.
It’s heavier, with more space and deepness.”

The album launches
at full force on the first track, “Test Me.” Jagged strings provide a
tense backdrop for special guest Ursula Rucker to strut her stuff. On
“Home,” “Midnight” and “Skyscapers” Schabel furthers his Berlin
Serengeti experiments forging indestructible genre (and speaker) busting
joints that ride the line between hip hop, dub and jazz. On “Hope” and
“Stop or Go” Bajka adds her unique dusty vocal flow to the busted beats.
She also wrote the music and lyrics to “Summer Days,” the more organic
and live track of her three appearances. On “Move” and “Thema” Schabel
balances Afro-Cuban rhythm with big band backing, the latter taking off
with a pull-no-punches rhodes solo. “Last Exit” is a piece of cinematic
jazz just waiting for the right movie to happen. The sound, at times, is
like an orchestra in the style of The Art Ensemble of Chicago or Sun
Ra’s Arkestra with huge wind sections or multiple percussionists driving
the listener on a whirlwind tour through African rhythms,
Ethiopique-stewed funk, and film-noir jazz. The bitter blue sound of
“World” recalls vintage Archie Shepp (circa Attica Blues) with Schabel
interjecting only brief moments of respite from the chaotic walls of
horns and piano.

“Julian Waiblinger (drums) and Wolfi Schlick
(flute and sax) have really come into their own. The piano players (Jo
Junghanns, Antonis Anissegos and Marja Burchard) have great features.
Playing a lot live and improvising (with Radio Citizen, Niko Schabel
Quartet, the Express Brass Band and other bands) has been a good
schooling,” explains Schabel. “And working in the studio forces one to
really know what you want to do and exercise it both with precision and
intuition,” he adds.

For Hope And Despair Schabel made thousands of
drafts, piecing together countless recording sessions, and spending long
hours spent editing and listening for the right moments and sounds.

title works on different levels. It’s definitely about the process of
producing this album which took so long I needed much endurance,”
explains Schabel.” But it also refers to the global-political situation
of the last ten years which really provided enough reason for despair
but also some for hope. Then, there's the music business…” he adds.

four years between records was not spent entirely in the studio or
touring. Schabel also knocked out a complete soundtrack for the movie
“Football Under Cover,” (an award winning indie-flick about an amateur
female soccer team from Berlin that goes on a nerve-wracking journey to
play the first female soccer match in the history of Iran) in addition
to making music for many small movies, engineering, and producing for
other bands.

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