In a week that saw the death of both Donna Summer and Robin Gibb, Lynskey looked at a much-derided genre, acknowledged that it possessed the same DNA as most of our modern pop and that it had its novelty records, its timeless chart-toppers and its influential masterpieces.
While Giorgio Moroder’s collaboration with Donna Summer brought him immortality, another producer and artist working out of a studio in Munich produced a record that matches anything in disco for innovation, adrenaline and aural drama.
There’s little online about Harry Thumann. He started out as a drummer in a band in the 60s (though I can’t find what bands) and studied audio engineering while developing an interest in building things. He helped develop audio equipment and built a live-in studio where he worked on his own music, pursuing technological innovation and producing records for others.
While others bought Commodore 64s to play California Games and Barbarian, Thumann was fitting them with MIDI cards to control synthesiser arrays. He built a control room housing six Yamaha DMP-7s as an integrated digital console system interfaced with a rebuilt Neve broadcast console. I I have no idea what that means but I think it can be loosely translated as Vorsprung Durch Technik.
He released two albums under his own name. American Express, where the title track sounds exactly like you would imagine a German version of conventional disco to sound, and Andromeda which is more experimental and, in Sphinx, boasts one of the best uses of the “Knight Rider” sample.
One single stands out though. Underwater, released in 1979 (1979!) is the perfect marriage of engineer and artist, throwing in everything but the kitchen sink (presumably because it was analogue) but still making it all work together with the utmost precision.
Thumann also reportedly mixed a mean White Russian, which makes me think of The Big Lebowski.
Wrap your ears around this…