Jäger 90,
Oraculo Records

Despite remaining active as a live act with founder Thoralf Dietrich, German body music act Jäger 90 haven’t officially released any new music since their 2011 LP Fleisch Macht Böse. It was probably only a matter of time before a compilation like new release R​ü​ckspulen came together in some form; the project’s intense loyalty to the sound of EBM progenitors Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaf gives their small, but muscly catalogue a pleasingly timeless quality. Indeed, were one not already familiar with the band’s work, you would be hard-pressed to tell that these tracks came out in the mid-late 2000s rather than the early eighties.

As such, the Jäger 90 sound is simple by its nature; songs are largely made up of a analogue monosynth bass, drums, and vocals, with occasional snatches of synthwork for embellishment. That sparseness in approach requires songs to have a lot punch and a deep groove to keep from becoming boring, a lesson that Jäger 90 knew well and is evidenced by the cuts collected here. “Stiefelblitz” runs on a dead simple kick snare pattern and 16th note bassline, its sole melodic element a sporadically deployed synth bell sound and its half-spoken vocals. It’s only its slight variations in structure that allow for it to run for nearly four minutes without collapsing into monotony. Another byproduct of the deliberate limitations the project works within are that major impact a simple element can have; witness how the splash cymbals on “Denk Das Ist Ok” end up being the most important part of the track by their presence or absence at various points in its looping arrangement.

Unlike many of DAF’s other devotees, Dietrich and company recognized the deeply funky aspects of the Delgado and Görl’s sound, and how to use it to avoid the muscle n’ hate trap that so much neo-oldschool EBM falls prey to. The plodding bass and incredibly simple drums of “Stärker Als Du Meinst” work for the song because they stay deep in the pocket; slow but possessed of a lot of bounce. That the band open with “Un Tanz” and its head-nodding rhythm is a solid indicator that whoever compiled the release understood how important keeping things groovy was to the band, and how they achieved it through studied minimalism.

As with any act that is beholden to another band, Jäger 90’s adherence to their inspiration’s sound can cut both ways; some listeners will enjoy the tasteful and precise ways that the band pays homage, while others will find its close resemblance to DAF to be offputting. A release like R​ü​ckspulen ends up allowing for that by staying lean and putting the band’s best foot forward via careful track selection. That makes it an overall charming listen that provides if not a complete overview of Jäger 90’s catalogue, a solid vision of what they sound like at their best.

Buy it.