Remute Made a Techno Album Based on the Nightclub from Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’
The German producer known for creating tracks about the World Chess Championship and the Pope’s travel plans is releasing 'Yoshiwara'—his most ambitious project to date.
'Yoshiwara's' album cover.
There have been many attempts to recreate the score of Metropolis, Fritz Lang's 1927 expressionist science-fiction epic. Countless musicians have unleashed their interpretations of the classic score, which was originally composed for a large orchestra by German composer Gottfried Huppertz. Most notably, disco legend Giorgio Moroder brought the film into the modern age in 1984, when he compiled a glossy new soundtrack alongside a re-release of the film, with guest appearances from the likes of Freddie Mercury and Pat Benatar. In 2000, Detroit futurist Jeff Mills created a techno score of the film for Germany's pioneering Tresor label. Mills compiled his score on a sprawling fifteen-track CD and a shorter seven-track vinyl 12", and performed both versions live in tandem with public screenings of the film.
Mini-mix of Remute's 'Yoshiwara' album.
Now, in the final stretch of 2014, techno DJ and producer Remute (Denis Karimani) is lending a very different interpretation to the seminal film's musical psyche. While others have attempted the massive undertaking of designing a soundtrack around the film's entire narrative, Karimani chose to focus on a specific part of the story—the Yoshiwara nightclub, a place that serves as a sort of futuristic red-light district. On December 15th, Karimani will release a 15-track album entitled Yoshiwara, which strives to create an imaginary musical narrative around the club.
"The album describes a night out to Yoshiwara, starting from the entrance, getting a first drink, then finally partying hard, losing your mind and walking out completely turned inside out. I assumed the role of a bourgeois regular guest, then scripted the album around this feeling before recording it," Karimani explains.
"Familiar Yet Strange" off of 'Yoshiwara.'
As for why he chose to focus on Yoshiwara, Karimani says that the club is a key element of the film—a place where fatal and important events happen, and the site of a major plot twist. "After re-watching the film innumerable times, I finally asked myself some questions: How's the vibe inside there? To which music does Evil Maria (one of the film's main characters) dance to? What is the soundtrack of the cataclysmal seduction? So I tried to come up with a very electronic sounding 'speculative mixtape' just concentrating on this particular segment of the film," he says.
Metropolis has a particular appeal for techno artists. Thematically, the film plays on the marriage between man and machine, revolving around an industrial, futurist vision of our world. "I think man and machine are already irrevocably bonded in our daily routine via computers, smartphones, the net, financial system, and even domestic appliances—but I don't think that is a bad thing at all," says Karimani.
While Yoshiwara is probably Karimani's most ambitious endeavor to date, he's long been known for crafting productions centered around unique themes. Recently, he's released free tracks themed around things like the World Chess Championship, the EU's midterm elections, and even the Pope's recent visit to the European parliament. "I enjoy soaking current moods and zeitgeists up like a sponge and then transcribing them into the universal language that is electronic music. While doing this I feel like a transcendental 'communication medium' and that's very liberating. These experimental tunes that I put out under the label Karimani24 are my ongoing collaboration with the world," Karimani says.
Recorded with mainly 80s gear designed by Roland and Oberheim, most of the album's tracks showcase a heavily analog sound, that flows with a sonic warmth. "All tunes are quite melodically arranged and synth-line driven—so in the end that's exactly how I imagine a retro-futuristic night at Yoshiwara," Karimani explains.
While some of the album's tracks play to the film's themes more indirectly, others are more literal interpretations of Metropolis' events. "I think 'Seven Deadly Sins For Her' is the most special track on the album. It's about Evil Maria lasciviously dressed up as the Whore of Babylon, driving guests of Yoshiwara nuts so they would, well, even commit seven deadly sins for her," Karimani says.
While many might see our society's obsession with technology as a dangerous impulse, Karimani insists that the fusion of man and machine is just another evolution of mankind. "Sure we have to make sure we don't produce something that gets out of control like Evil Maria—a metaphor for technology went wrong—and create a devastated society with sick tools for mass hypnosis, manipulation, and spying. But if we're able to master the machine in every aspect, the mediator between brain and hands is the heart—as Metropolis concludes. If we don't let them be our slave driver, mankind will prosper in a transhumanist way."
As for what Fritz Lang would think of what he'd done with the film, Karimani says he hopes Lang would enjoy it. "Maybe he'll put me on the guestlist for a party at Yoshiwara," he adds with a grin.
'Yoshiwara' will be released via Telefuture on Dec. 15th on CD, cassette-tape and digital.