Tube & Berger provide a well-rounded view of their past, present, & future in ‘We Are All Stars’ [Album Review]
Tube & Berger have never been ones to assimilate to the status quo musically. Its members, Arndt and Marko, found each other at a young age through punk rock and quickly bonded under their shared ideology of defying trends and forging their own forward-thinking path.
Throughout their storied career, which began well over a decade ago, the two have since been working toward a unique vision which bridges the gap between their roots in live music and contemporary electronic. They began by redefining house music into their own mold, creating their Kitball imprint and releasing records rife with instrumental elements that fit perfectly into both their DJ sets and into their groundbreaking performances as a band.
“Rock n Roll isn’t dead. It just found a new home.” – Tube & Berger, 2015
Never has their general philosophy been more present sonically than within their sophomore album, We Are All Stars. It steps beyond their house-leaning debut LP Introlution, venturing into a more alternative, indie realm where classical training and the ability to play an instrument takes precedence. We’re introduced to the raw essence of their artistry as a result.
A good portion We Are All Stars was written organically, through jam sessions together and with their collaborators – a more traditional route which played a significant role guiding the body of work’s overall aesthetic. It’s rife with retro influence, capturing the moments in music’s timeline that have driven Tube & Berger’s musical development to where they are today.
They pay homage to the 1980s in a good deal of their selections, for example. In their titular single “We Are All Stars,” they weave disco into a contemporary foundation by way of funky guitar riffs and an equality-driven mantra, “We are all stars under the sun.” Likewise, “Lucky Shot” and the highly emotive “In The Name Of” also make great use of these vintage sounds, pairing guitars with stylized vocal edits and analog synth melodies that amount to records whose timeless nature would have made them just as good as tracks today as they would have been if they were made several decades ago. Furthermore, the emphasis on such classic instrumentation points to Tube & Berger’s readiness to transition further into the live direction they’re currently seeking with their productions.
“Musically we wanted to try and tie our two sides – the rock and the electronic dance – together. Even on the pure club grooves we tried to not go down the cliché dance lyrics route.”
Numerous collaborators on We Are All Stars further enhanced its avant-garde atmosphere. Famed British band co-created “Quiet Time,” one of the more far-out songs on the roster – a perfect fusion of indie and electronica that feels like it was written for a by a band rather than a DJ/producer. Richard Judge was also a key player on the album, providing vocal assistance to three very diverse arrangements. On the rock-centric end comes the appropriately titled “Rock N Roll Until We Die,” while on the opposite end lies “Dust Feel,” a grooving cut whose moving, synth-driven topline complements Judge’s pained vocals and the track’s bassy undertones nicely.
Meanwhile, “Automatic People” is easily one of the farthest departures outside Tube & Berger’s usual sonic imprint, adopting a subtle, dubstep-inspired foundation to accent RBBTS’ voice. It captures the bassier sound that is becoming more prevalent throughout the electronic world without being tacky, and remains artistic as ever in its approach.
Though We Are All Stars touches upon their earliest roots and desire to move in a less DJ-oriented direction, that isn’t to say Tube & Berger ditch the housier stylings that they build their careers on completely. “Ruckus,” the third Richard Judge track on the LP, ties lush percussion and forlorn guitars together and inserts them into a deep house canvas. Soulful vocal samples and fluttering kicks line “Fetzen,” while the dark, scintillating “International Corporate Motherfuckers” is built for the peaktime. The aforementioned song’s tense feeling and angry connotations speak to alternative, punk nature embedded in Tube & Berger’s psyches.
The boys summate all the themes present in their new album with its closer, “Loyando.” It opens with intriguing baby samples before transforming into a mature piece bursting with far-out melodies and distinctive sample which traverses through multiple zones of house and breaks.
Ultimately, We Are All Stars is perhaps Tube & Berger’s most well-balanced work to date, harnessing their prowess in production and prior musical training to present a tidy and cohesive package of compositions that will guide them smoothly into the new, live-focused era of their career that they envision for themselves.