Posted by: Nick Walters | July 20, 2009

The Barmy World of Yello No. 1: The Eye

Yello are fab.

There should be a new album soon, Touch Yello, and rumours are that it’s a double. I could fill pages eulogising their brilliance, but I want to focus on just one aspect of Yello. Not the music, but the sleevenotes.

Their last album, 2003’s The Eye, is great, but the sleevenotes are something else. They conjure images that are at an oblique tangent to the actual songs and even reality itself. Sophisticated, barmy, surreal, they are the product of the mind of Dietier Meier – the world’s coolest multi-millionaire – and are, though it sounds heretical, sometimes better than the actual songs.

You gotta say yes to another excess:

Planet Dada
Ramses II, the pharoah who left our galaxies two millenniums BC, is reincarnated in Philadelphia as DJ Ram and lectures about the subject of his long way back.

That sets the scene excellently. We’ve left Earth and its grammar way behind already. Genius.

Many reasons to get nervous, but Joe La Placa here feels he is about to fall in love. With no defense left, to the surprise of his assistant, the otherwise smooth operator admits the calamity.

Sounds like a plot for a particularly emo Dr Who story.

Don Turbulento
Don Turbulento, after a serious dive into a chill-out session in Rio de Janeiro, follows the sound of a distant beat into the jungle and has not been seen since.

Love how these are like outlines for movies. Don Turbulento – WHAT a name! – seems to be another of Meier’s quixotic, eternally perplexed secret agent Euro-noir characters a la Random Tox (from a previous album) and the aforementioned Joe La Placa.

Soul On Ice
Heat in the city, cold as ice, the streets are shining, reflecting her eyes, the second I see her come through the door, I’m loosing my mind, I’m existing no more.

Switching to the first person, this is a typical Meier scenario: the hero lost, confused, pursuing a femme fatale through a techno-noir landscape and finally going insane or expiring.

Junior B
Butch, the queen of crooning, meets Trans-Reggae and melts away in Ricks’ cafe, overlooking Sugar Bamboo Bay.

I love that. Read it again, and wallow in the world it summons up inside your brain.

Tiger Dust
Who, when and what? The son of Buddha couldn’t care less and wants to hear the question one more time.

Clearly, complete bollocks. But a special kind of complete bollocks unique to Yello.

Distant Solution
Soft, too soft, a suburban macho tries to sing his way into the heart of Mercedes, who smiles and drives him over the hill.

Do you see what he’s done there? Mercedes – is she a car, or is she a gal? Who knows in the barmy world of Yello?!

Hipster’s Delay
The trumpet kid keeps it cool, and dances away on the ocean of sticks and bubbles.

Of course, everyone knows that pesky ocean of sticks and bubbles. A real bummer to navigate.

Time Palace
Who is singing between my mind and the moon?

This is, to me, the single greatest sleevenote ever written. It scares me – it’s like something whispered softly in your ear by a lunatic goblin in the small hours of the morning.

Indigo Bay
On a steamer in space, King Voodoo zooms into the next dimension.

I like to imagine that this inspired Russell T Davies to write Voyage of the Damned, but  of course it didn’t. I’d like to see a Doctor Who villain called King Voodoo, though. That would be cool.

In a labyrinth of crystals, love shines bright and the lonely monkey peels his third banana.

By now, you know you are in the company of unhinged genius. And what’s that, Dieter? A euphemism for wanking? A little crude for Yello – I like to think this is unintentional, and he really DOES mean that a lonely monkey is actually eating a banana.

Travelling in circles, the lights of the unknown city are near and far.

Mild by comparison to its stablemates, but note the sense of travelling never to arrive.

Star Breath
A streetcar made of glass roars uphill and fades away into a treadmill where drumming monks try to make themselves invisible.

Breathaking, genius Yellobollocks of the HIGHEST order!

Planet Dada (Flamboyant)
The planet Dada is plugged in straight to the brain of a man who can only think music, and in this piece he gets lost on his own road map.

At last, all is explained.

Who needs reality? The barmy world of Yello is a place I love to live – lonely monkeys, drumming monks,  pharaoh DJs, voodoo kings, trumpet kids and girls who are cars and all!


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