• LTR042
    Nonkeen
    All good?
    2024
LTR042_Nonkeen_AllGood_DSP_3000x3000px

Nonkeen – childhood friends Nils Frahm, Frederic Gmeiner, and Sebastian Singwald – are excited to announce the release of their third album, ‘All good?’. Scheduled for release on June 21 via LEITER, the album serves as a heartfelt homage to the legendary Herbert Laser (pronounced LAR-ser), the innovative mind behind ‘Laserjazz’ and a longtime musical inspiration for the band. The album – their first since 2016’s ‘The Gamble’ and partner album ‘Oddments of the Gamble’ – will be available on 2LP vinyl and via all digital platforms, and it’s preceded by two singles, ‘of plasticity’ and ‘that love’, out now.

Born in 1945 in Munich, Herbert Laszlo Laser was an ingenious spirit who moved to Berlin in the 1960s, merging the city’s jazz rhythms with his own pioneering electronic soundscapes. ‘Laserjazz,’ a term coined for this unique fusion, saw its peak in the early ’70s, powered by his revolutionary instrument, the Synthar, and an inventive approach deeply influenced by his background as a watchmaker, a craft in which he was better known as Hermann Laser. Drawing inspiration from the pulse of ticking clocks in his workshop, his blend of craftsmanship and experimentation, together with the Synthar, became the hallmark of his style, adding a distinctive dimension to his work. Nonetheless, despite being a trailblazer in the German capital’s notorious underground scene, Laser remains largely unrecognised, a cult figure – at best – until his passing in 2016.

Nonkeen’s ‘All good?’ can be traced back to a serendipitous encounter between the band and Laser in the summer of 2007, when the three musicians, having long admired Laser from afar, stumbled upon him performing in a small, dimly lit tent during a Berlin music festival. A small crowd was already captivated by his harmonic mélange, but Laser’s Synthar unexpectedly began to malfunction and, amid a particularly intense sequence, started emitting not only distorted sounds but also sporadic electric shocks. Despite the obvious danger, a stubborn Laser continued to play, determined not to let technical difficulties derail his performance. Unfortunately the situation escalated when a visibly substantial spark shocked him, causing him to momentarily falter. To gasps from the crowd, Laser regained his composure and, albeit with noticeable effort and his hands still trembling, finished his set.

Afterwards, Frahm, Gmeiner, and Singwald, who’d watched with a mixture of awe and concern, found Laser backstage, slightly disheveled but inspecting his beloved Synthar for damage. With genuine concern, Singwald asked, ‘All good?’ and Laser, despite his pain, reassured them a wry smile, adding “It’s always good when you can play another note.” The question, simple yet empathetic, ignited a lasting bond, and the incident proved pivotal, deepening their admiration for his dedication and resilience, a spirit they wished to embody.

Reunited in the wake of their 2016 albums, Nonkeen began channeling the Laserjazz’ heritage alongside their formative influences, incorporating parts of Laser’s original prototypes, including, somewhat remarkably, the very essence of the Synthar, into their latest soundscapes. Produced during spontaneous sessions marked by camaraderie and shared creativity, ‘All good?’ invites listeners to pursue a central narrative deeply intertwined with Laser‘s ethos. Ultimately, the album’s eight tracks are a testament to a joy shared in innovation and exploration. Even its titles form a poetic eulogy to Laser, recycling words from a rare interview in which he answered questions with typically cryptic song quotes: “I am sure that love will never be a product of plasticity!” In so doing, Nonkeen reflect the great creator’s eclectic tastes and philosophical sophistication, at last bringing Laser to a new, long overdue audience and ensuring his legacy will endure.