S ND Y P RL RS (formerly Songs For Sunday Parlours) is the solo project of Berlin’s Malte Cornelius Jantzen. He’s German, but you’d never be able to tell. He writes songs in English that easily fit in with today’s American indie rock scene, sounding something like a male Cat Power, with some Conor Oberst styling. Similarities aside, he’s a 24 year old from a small town in Germany who has great potential, but hasn’t really been heard yet. In addition to his music, he’s also part of the New Wedding Avant-Garde artist collective in Berlin, where he works with others to organize exhibitions in and around Germany (Wedding is the name of a neighborhood of Berlin).
Jantzen has been playing guitar and writing songs in English for six years. He has never once written a song in German. When asked why he chose to write in English, he explains, “I never really thought about it or made an actual decision. I listened to a lot of American bands when I was younger, so it kind of came naturally. I love the German language. It’s very complex and poetic, but I find it hard to write lyrics in German.”
Musically, the artist admits that his fondness for American music is a sure influence in his own work, “I was always more interested in American music. I listened to a lot of bands like Sonic Youth, Low, or Cat Power when I was younger. I was never really into German bands. I don’t know why. I guess that influenced me a lot.”
In the last year, Jantzen has released two albums, White and BRING DEATH TO S ND Y P RL RS. The former record is a seven-track experimental odyssey through hard-edged sound fields that Jantzen released with his friend Paul Novik. The two musicians guide the purely instrumental songs with dark guitars and sharp sound effects gathered from glass bottles, cello bows, tin cans, and screwdrivers.
While White is very daring in its experimental quest, BRING DEATH… presents S ND Y P RL RS’s ardent abilities as a singer/songwriter. The collection of ten songs showcases vintage, M. Ward-esque guitars and light piano; they’re full of post-breakup lyrics, many of them serving as quiet, reflective musical gripes. It sounds as if Janzten has had some girl problems…specifically issues with “American Girls,” which happens to be the title of one of the album’s leading tracks.
“All these American girls and their American lies / And they keep you up at night / And they always steal the night,” Jantzen complains line after line about supposed negative American girls. The lines weave through addicting solemn piano chords until the singer gives out with the line, “It makes you never want to try.”
Other high points on the album are “The Fight Song,” “24,” and “New Jersey.” The songs demonstrate the musician’s ability to reel listeners in with slow, simple beginnings before gradually bringing in drums and guitar or piano. S ND Y P RL RS lyrics are personal and direct; there’s rarely a moment where the lyrics confuse, and there’s no “lost in translation” line where the English doesn’t work out.
Jantzen says his next album will have a sound somewhere between the artist’s previous two albums: “There will be a new LP coming out (probably in August) named REX on Umor Rex. I guess you can say it will combine the two different sound elements of White and Bring Death. The new record will not be as abstract, but not as ‘poppy’ as Bring Death either.”
There are no shows planned for his summer release yet, but from May 22 to June 16, Jantzen is presenting a two-part installation in Villach, Austria called DARK MATTER that will combine abstract black and white photographs with a long ambient/drone performance composed exclusively for the exhibition. Alluding to the art show and the performance, Jantzen says, “I think you can tell that the Bring Death-time is somehow over for me.”
Fans can listen to a preview of DARK MATTER here.
There will also be a book and CD-R release for the exhibition, on behalf of Colpa Press in San Francisco.