“Never change a winnig team”. That’s what Radio Citizen’s Niko Schabel must have thought when he decided to release his fourth album once again on Sonar Kollektiv. After the success of “The Night & The City” (SK310LP / CD) from 2015 and the productive collaboration ever since this seems like a wise resolution. Schabel’s idea to retrieve to a mountain cabin in Salvenberg, Tirol with his band and tons of equipment turned out to be an even more crucial factor to the cause. Here they could create and record new songs and bring them together neatly for the new album. The 13 tracks assembled here on “Silent Guide” are – each on its own and in its entirety anyway – best proof how wonderfully this approach has worked out. For instance, you’d only have to listen to “Grand Jam” to get the picture: A composite work of Schabel (on synthesizer) with Bernd Oeszevim (on drums), Maasl Maier (on bass), Marja Burchard (on rhodes) and Johannes Schleiermacher (on synthesizer) leaves every musician enough air to breathe and even much more room for personal development. A qualification running like a common thread through the album’s length. Don’t worry though, “Silent Guide” isn’t a random collection of live jams and untamed solos. “SaraSong” (composed by drummer Oeszevim) is a beautiful, gracious tune borne by Marja Burchard’s trombone and Niko Schabel’s bass clarinet packed in a semi-complex arrangement with two parts linked up ingeniously. Or take the opener and title track “Silent Guide”: Here you have Natalie Greffel’s voice becharming you. You literally can feel how much fun it must have been to bring this album collectively forth. On “Ninguém” Greffel sings in Portuguese and on “It’s Not Enough” she’s supported vocally by Marja Burchard for a mantra-like chorus superimposed over the captivating drumming by Bernd Oeszevim (the first part is a 33/16 beat by the way). On this track Johannes Schleiermacher plays the flute, on “Kein Planet” Niko Schabel plays an alto saxophone and on “Ethxxmologie” you hear a whole brass section featuring a bass clarinet, a tenor saxophone and two trombones.
On this album Radio Citizen indulges in its love for live recorded instruments like never before. When all the previous efforts (with “Warm Canto” as an exception) were heavily based on samples, Radio Citizen’s sound gains spontaneity and charisma. Besides the (on the cover illustrated) happy gathering of synthesizers and keyboards there are also exceptionally many wind instruments on the album. An album floating in musical nowhere land between Krautrock, Free Jazz, Club Culture, Dub and maybe even Pop. Along these lines “Silent Guide” is a masterpiece of deliberate border crossing. The Cool Jazz track “Smoke”, written by Schabel and with Julian Schleiermacher on tenor saxophone, is the appropriate finale of this thrilling journey. We will wax lyrical about this album in years to come.