Palais Schaumburg

  • Palais Schaumburg
  • Das Single Kabinett EP (Ger. ZickZack) 1981 
  • Lupa (Ger. Phonogram) 1982 
  • Palais Schaumburg (UK Kamera) 1982 
  • Parlez-Vous Schaumburg? (Ger. Phonogram) 1984 

Palais Schaumburg is an eccentric, intelligent pop band of frequently shifting personnel from Hamburg, Germany. While their eclectic records display obvious oddball/new wave influences, they seem to have also listened to their share of jazz and 20th-century European composers. Das Single Kabinett is a six-track mini-LP of stripped-down, danceable electro-pop, with vocals and synthesizer work owing more than a little to the Residents. The concluding “Aschenbecher” features tight ensemble playing and complex chords, proving the band knows what it’s doing. No run-of-the-mill egghead weirdness here.

Palais Schaumburg, their first LP, is a strong collection of smartly arranged dance tracks, with sounds and harmonies that get more bizarre as the album progresses. Their only record released in England and the last before lead singer Holger Hiller left the group, it is highly recommended.

Produced by Kid Creole associate Andy (Coati Mundi) Hernandez, Lupa shows a major change in the band’s sound, as prominent vibes and horns mix with odd synth textures to yield a clear jazz feel. Throughout it all, they exhibit a Pere Ubu-cum-XTC quirkiness, and at times sound like a hip German Weather Report. Whether or not that’s something the world needs, Lupa is an interesting, unique album.

Making another about-face, they released Parlez-Vous Schaumburg?. Incorporating some Latin tinges, a punchy horn section and ersatz big-band soundtrack arrangements (on a Fairlight, no doubt), it is — idiosyncrasies notwithstanding — their most accessible record, at times sounding like Shriekback’s experimental side.

[David Sheridan]