For Fans of: Ton Steine Scherben, Rancid, Ska-P., Turbostaat, Milliarden, Pascow
21 years of Rantanplan. Starting out as a powerfully driving pressure valve to release the inner rage of young twenty-somethings, three friends from Hamburg took the risk of doing something totally different: threshing yet melodic ska punk with German-language lyrics. Their anger became them even then, and so Marcus Wiebusch, Reimer Bustorff and Torben Meissner soon found themselves breaking into the local punk scene as a bloody brilliant German response to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. And the latter of the trio – his two pals having bid their farewells to join the Kettcar fold – has developed along with Rantanplan into a fixed point on the underground scene, always reliable and – despite all directional and line-up changes that subsequent years have brought – holding on to that basic sense of trust that is inherent to all pure motives: honesty, straightforwardness, assured edginess. And occasionally, where required, also wholehearted hate. Because although the years have passed, the anger has remained. And with it that inner field of energy that drives Rantanplan through every song and every artfully created line, preferably inspired by (frequently French) existentialists.
Compared to earlier material, where their political and social statements were often seasoned with a sprinkling of humor, from corny to a fine sense of irony, these days a sober – or rather: disillusioned – realism prevails. Torben: ‘Most jokes wear thin after you’ve heard them five times. A lot of our numbers start out funnier than they turn out to be in the end. The heart of the matter is usually too serious for silly jokes. We prefer making an album that you have to listen to five times before you grasp it and that you continue to listen to for five years rather than coming up with something shrill that’s dead after five listens.’ In that respect, Rantanplan have hit the bull’s eye with “Licht und Schatten” because it shows that even a genre like ska, which supposedly aims primarily at a young audience, can mature, grow and ground itself. How well it is complemented by indulgent detours in the direction of classic hard rock and wittily blustering noise rock. And what sincere anthems of humaneness in all its broken schizophrenia and absurdity this band can produce without having to spin the big wheel.
So basically Rantanplan have got it down to a tee: songs between hotheadedness and serenity, fighting dog and goofball, callousness and warm-heartedness. Wrapped in a sound that was refined lovingly by producer Linda Gerdes at Hamburg’s Clouds Hill Studio And yet: ‘We’ve always been underground and continue to be underground,’ says Torben, who navigates the current Rantanplan line-up – Fabian Vehreschild (bass), Marlon Fertinger (drums), Ulf Werner (trumpet), Gero Graas (trombone) – like, as he puts it, ‘an empathic dictator with a penchant for teamwork’. ‘Underground has always been okay, especially since there’s never been a choice for us. But we actually hope with every album to really break through. Not to cash in, that’s no longer possible these days. But simply so people can see what it is that we do, to get some credit and perhaps to be able to live off our music for a while, without having to do day jobs as well. Obviously that’s more difficult today than ever before. But I have to keep trying.’
Credit that – if the comment is permitted – in times where epigonal acts such as Turbostaat, Fjørt, Adam Angst and Pascow and their battlesome anger strive for an ever broader public, is well deserved and long overdue, especially in view of this outstanding recording.
‘After a concert or when I’ve recorded a really good studio take, I feel somewhat purified,’ says Torben in closing. ‘A kind of detoxification has taken place, all the bad energies have evaporated. I firmly believe that music keeps us healthy. To me it’s that way with Rantanplan. And I can imagine that it’s the same for other people, too.’
03. Revolution (Emma G.)
06. Mein Herz hängt an der Reeperbahn
10. Zur Liebe zu Fuss