When a group like RPWL takes on a theme for an album, it can usually be assumed that this eclectic quartet will dive deep, very deep, into the chosen spectrum and illuminate it from all possible perspectives. Then – as with past concept albums such as “Tales from Outer Space” (2019) – the largest possible carpet is rolled out and the compositions go hand in hand with Yogi Lang’s carefully written, as well as musically set lyrics, to be finally presented, arranged and performed from one cast.
On the new longplayer Crime Scene this Bavarian Artrock institution directs its attention to the morbid, the perverse, the evil in good, the abysses of the human behavior spectrum in all its unpredictable diversity, which sometimes comes across as bizarrely disturbing and conclusive, if one tries to fathom it.
Where does love end, where does mania begin? Can a line be drawn between pathological delusion and meticulous, criminal meticulousness? Thematically, motifs and subjects such as Karl Denke, that cannibal from Münsterberg, or the hopelessly loving home supervisor from Florida, Carl Tanzler, appear in Crime Scene. It would be beyond the scope of this article to go into the crazy life stories of these two people alone. However, should one think that this is all too far out, then two counter-arguments immediately take hold: first, RPWL have never known limits, at least none that set themselves, and second, these cases really happened. Cases that stretch the concept of criminality as much as RPWL stretch the concept of rock band, since their debut “God has failed” (2000). But they’ve been doing this since the band was founded in Freising in 1997, so all in all the surprise shouldn’t really be one, while this album of course has surprises at every turn.
In six densely atmospheric tracks RPWL – Kalle Wallner/guitar, Yogi Lang/vocals, keys, Marc Turiaux/drums & Markus Grützner/bass – have once again embarked on intensive journeys through their own band vita, as well as their own record collections. The effort of comparisons is always such a thing, because after all this is the 19th release of this internationally successful band. Lead guitarist Kalle Wallner has just released his much praised solo album Voices and you can literally feel it in the eloquence of the solos, which here, however, clearly serve the respective composition.
The partly morbid-dark themes are countered with old-school fuzz, the almost 13-minute “King of the World” with its growling big muff and its flat vibes, or “Life beyond Control”, which with its offbeat use must surely belong to the heaviest pieces in the RPWL discography, make their confession on the Crime Scene. The former Floyd-eleven know about the eternal comparisons, but here at the latest it’s about the dark side of the soul, you can let pigs fly and some criminals you wish better not to be here…
“Live in a Cage” brings the calculation of the as always meticulous sound design of this new RPWL album to the point, seamlessly follows “Red Rose”. Band-aid on gunshot wound as a principle. But the delusion of normalized violence wafts in so many households beneath the supposed harmony that the four musicians here would have the listener believe. How does it feel to have no concept of freedom at all, but the fear of leaving bourgeois security is greater? In the lockdown year 2020 alone, the police recorded over 119,000 cases of intimate partner violence, 139 of which were fatal, directed in over 80% of cases against the female part in the relationship.
Yogi Lang comments from an artistic perspective that he has always been fascinated by social and personal shadow sides. Kalle Wallner asks the Gretchen question of how to deal with evil itself: “Who makes us who we are? Is it a question of genetics or is it social circumstances, our childhood, strokes of fate, pressure or offenses?”
Evil’ forms one of the core themes on Crime Scene, which shall be released via the band’s own label Gentle Art of Music, distributed by Soulfood, on March 17th 2023.
01. Victim Of Desire
02. Red Rose
03. A Cold Spring Day In ‘22
04. Life In A Cage
05. King Of The World
06. Another Life Beyond Control
Yogi Lang (vocals, keyboards)
Kalle Wallner (guitars)
Markus Grützner (bass)
Marc Turiaux (drums)