Al Milano - Berlin, Tempelhofer Ufer, WinterI’ve never been to Berlin in winter (or at all), but if this album is somewhat accurate in the depiction of the cold time of year over there, I can say that it’s nothing like Chicago. No heavy snowstorms, no traffic jams, and, most importantly, no bone-chilling wind. All in all pretty tame, even though just as beautiful in its own depressing kind of way. I’m not sure what Taxi Driver (the movie) got to do with Berlin, but the famous “you talkin’ to me” is used on the first track, which I liked so much that couldn’t help comparing it to the rest of the album. Which probably wasn’t the right thing to do, but this is what happens when a record opens with an outstanding track followed by a string of solid yet less exciting songs. After first couple of listens I couldn’t understand what exactly is keeping me from thoroughly enjoying this album. I liked the use of samples and instruments, I liked the melodies, especially in the first half of the record, where they have more individuality, I liked the attempt of creating a mood rather than an elaborate music contraption of an album… And then it hit me: the songs are just way too short. With the exception of the first track (which I wish was a bit longer as well), all the songs I liked on the record are the longest ones. The frightening “U-Bhf Mehringdamm” (I would really like to hear more songs from Al Milano done in this vein) rolls through the winter taking us to the “Kaiser’s Friedrichsstraße 246” which I have no idea what is, but it feels like a good spot to have a cup of hot chocolate (or a cigarette perhaps as the album cover suggests) with a good friend and silently watch the snow falling. The rest of the tracks, most of which are just under three minutes, are more like snapshots, short essays that just never get a chance to develop into stories. There is a windy “Kristallnacht”, a sparkling “Frozen Lake”, but they feel like photographs that are part of a slide show that is flipping through the slides too fast for the viewer to absorb all the mood and emotion, rather than the actual winter, which is, like all of us know, is oh so long…

R.I.Y.L. Dirty Elegance, Nightmares On Wax – “Les Nuits”, icicles
personal favs: “Taxidriver. Too Late”, “U-Bhf Mehringdamm”, “Kaiser’s Friedrichsstraße 246”

★★★½☆ tipkin’s rating

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