Ostseetraum Mondmenschen EP

On their 2020 debut cassette (later turned LP), Berlin’s OSTSEETRAUM cruised straight down the coldwave Autobahn with rigid drum machine beats, percolating synth, sparse strokes of guitar and bass, expressionless German voice-overs, and ample negative space left between those elements—an aesthetic that’s obviously restrained by design, but it often tipped into almost being too clinical. With the follow-up Mondmeschen EP, they’ve finally passed the Voight-Kampff test, and the added human energy really benefits these five songs. The bass is at the forefront this time around, snaking through “Du Siehst Mich Nicht” and “Du Bist Gefangen” in a way that’s borderline funky (a little more Factory/Rough Trade than their usual steady diet of Zickzack), and locking into the sparse, spin-cycle tom rhythm that pushes “Kein Inhalt” precariously forward. Even “Mondmeschen,” the EP’s most straight electro offering, is more cyber-dub than minimal synth, all liquid delay and rattling, echoed beats under woozy space-age keys; a soft glow radiating through cracked steel.

Ostseetraum Ostseetraum cassette

Gloriously minimal German synth-driven new wave. Stark, cold and mature, OSTSEETRAUM conjures sounds of homemade tapes recorded and duplicated in dark apartments to be distributed by hand in early ’80s Berlin, and they make those sounds feel relevant and unattainable. Stripped NDW bands like STRATIS clashing with Voice of America-era CABARET VOLTAIRE, sonic robotics delivered with a calculated and intentional calm. Nine cuts here, a stellar debut.