starfish64 was established in 2006 by German singer-songwriter Dieter Hoffmann. Originally intended to be a vehicle for his solo-work, starfish64 began recording and publishing in the singer-songwriter genre at first. Over the years, however, sound and compositions shifted more and more towards progressive and new art rock.
‘Scattered Pieces Of Blue’ is the latest album and has been described by the band as ‘Somewhere between prog, pop, rock and outer space. And all in blue…’. To be fair, it is quite a fitting description as starfish64 have their own unique sound that does have touch of sc-fi soundtrack to it in places. The deliberate, almost monotone vocals work perfectly with the spaced out feel of the tracks and then the sublime guitar playing arrives to add that real touch of rock to the music.
This new album has been the band’s most successful yet, which is testimony to the strong songwriting and seamless flow between the often disparate styles of music. These musicians are masters of the segue in a way, which, on other albums by different artists, just doesn’t work. Here it becomes the signature of a band supremely happy with their musical style.
There’s the dreamlike contemplation of album opener Blue Piece Of Something In The Air, the sharp suited brilliance of Birdsong (I really like this track!) with its rather fine sprawling guitar solo at the end and the more upbeat Sunrise Over The Weathered Roofs Of Platania, a song that should be the musical definition of ‘sunny disposition’, three tracks that open the album in fine style.
Forget Me Not brings authority and seriousness, a stylish song that brings to mind a more laid back Kraftwerk to me, the plethora of synths and keyboards is wonder to behold. The short and sweet Blue Piece (Reprise) is like a rather appealing palate cleanser before an elegant piano opens the wistful and thoughtful Happiness, the dreamlike quality of this song is utterly charming.
Perhaps the most interesting and thought-provoking piece on the album, Time’s Up Utopia has a calming and engaging extended instrumental opening that lifts the anticipation perfectly. Tangerine Dream soundscapes wash around you, interspersed by the more direct vocals, a perfectly judged combination. This song is possibly the best that the band have ever written, in my humble opinion, it ebbs and flows in an utterly compelling manner and leaves you completely satisfied, the guitar solo is a piece of genius too! Intersection One sounds like a sci-fi soundtrack in composition and name and contains a cavernous dynamism, Number Forty-Five has a powerful edge to it, harder than most of the other songs, the echoing guitar imbues it with a forceful, potent, energy. The album closes with the surreal countenance of Space Junk, a nostalgic, almost mournful feeling piece of music with an honest and determined outlook and the best guitar solo on the album, all fire and brimstone. It’s an impressive way to close out what has been a rather brilliant album.
starfish64 have been around for a pretty long time and definitely know how to make music but, with ‘Scattered Pieces Of Blue’, they have raised their already considerable level to a new high. Often thoughtful and contemplative but also at times vivid and intense, it is an album that they should be truly proud of and contains their very essence as musicians, I highly recommend it.
Released 5th June, 2022.
Order from bandcamp here: