LIECHTENSTEIN: Al Walser Comes 2 Life! - Al Walser
Not quite Prince, but Walser demonstrates similar musical vision
At 200worldalbums we are fortunate enough to speak to a range of artists for our interview section. One common them amongst them is that most artists don’t like being pigeon-holed into a genre. Whilst this is understandable, I would suggest that although many artists fuse together a small handful of recognisable musical styles, most can be put into a category that fairly resembles part of what they do despite their cries against this. The only big name artist I can think of whose musical oeuvre is so varied and unique that he became somewhat uncategorisable was Prince. He even pioneered the term ‘Minneapolis sound’, that straddled between funk and new wave, to help describe what he did, but even this term is rather redundant and under exaggerates his vastly varied output, often smashing through a dozen genres in one song. Whilst Prince’s influence looms large over many in the music industry, with artists from across the world in places as far-reaching as Suriname with their Prince-like funk star Sumy, the incredible ability he had that matched his almost insane levels of ambition might make him a once in a generation talent. Al Walser’s 2015 album demonstrates why.
“Walser tries to take on just about every genre under the sun in this album and fuses them together with varying degrees of success.”
Walser made his name as DJ and producer, coming to prominence as part of the New Fun Factory, one of the spin offs of legendary German dance group Fun Factory. Having checked out his website one might suggest that he is very good at getting through doors with his gallery section featuring pictures with the world’s biggest names both inside and outside of the music industry. It is his ability to get through doors which landed him in a spot of controversy. Walser was a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences which gained him a position as a Grammy voter, for which he was rather questionably nominated in 2013 alongside artists such as Avicii, Calvin Harris and Skrillex. His dubious nomination was also tarnished due to the fact that the song for which he was nominated I Can't Live Without You sounds suspiciously like Spectrum by Zedd. I am all for giving the benefit of the doubt, but if you check both songs out it is hard to make a case in Walser’s favour to suggest this is one big coincidence.
That said, though his ethics have been called into question, in terms of vision, it is fair to say that I haven’t heard many albums as bold as Al Walser Comes 2 Life!, which is where the obvious comparison with Prince comes in… However, in terms of execution I would say that is a different matter. Walser tries to take on just about every genre under the sun in this album and fuses them together with varying degrees of success. The album begins with Live It Up an almost punky-disco tune which is of such high intensity I can only imagine it being played in a spin class. Its ability to really get the heart pumping is something which Walser succeeds without throughout. The next song, OCD, although musically ambitious with its almost metal-esque beat, contains ridiculous rhythms. The attempt at profundity with lyrics such as ‘God lives in the neurons’ don’t quite wash with me. Then we have Am I Wrong a song that when I first heard the album I genuinely liked. As a disco fan, I liked how it captures an almost Michael Jackson’s Thriller kind of essence, but then after months of hearing the song on my playlist my patience for it started to run out and I began to actively dislike the song, with its unnecessarily high bpm.
The best song on the album is probably the reggae-infused The Unknown Rockstar. Not to level any more criticism at Walser of thievery, though the tune does contain elements of Bob Marley’s Iron Lion Zion. As a one off song, I quite like it, partially because Walser allows the listener to momentarily take a breather, but as a dance album it in no way fits in with the rest of the other tracks on the record. Though the album contains other danceable tracks like the pop-rock number I Think I’m Falling in Love and the rather fun disco track Super Drone, the song that caught my attention for its sheer wackiness was I Want My Money Now. The dirty D&B bassline fusion was confusing at first, but to give it its fair due it is a catchy song I have had stuck in my head for the past few days. There is also some impressive guitar shredding to be admired. Overall, whilst this jarring album is not exactly my cup of tea, there is a lot on there to be appreciated in terms of effort. Though I wouldn’t actually chose to listen to this album for fun, it can be said that Walser is somewhat worthy of praise for trying to carry on the legacy that Prince left behind and I look forward to hopefully discovering an album with Walser’s ambition but of a slightly higher