Why do band members sometimes release solo albums? Well, mostly because they want to record music that doesn't fit the band's repertoire. Another possibility is that they wrote too much material that can't be used for the band's album releases or they simply want to work with other musicians. I think the last two possibilities apply for Yogi Lang, RPWL's lead singer and keyboard player. No Decoder sounds in many ways like an RPWL-album, so that cannot be the reason why he wanted to record a solo album. Guitarist Kalle Wallner, his fellow musician in RPWL, created with Blind Ego something completely different. He also used Blind Ego to record a number of songs that sound completely different from the music he wrote for RPWL. He also recorded and performed these songs with other musicians. This is something Yogi Lang did on his album as well.
Undoubtedly the most impressive name that contributed on No Decoder is bass player Guy Pratt, who performed on the last Pink Floyd- albums and live tours. Pratt must have felt very comfortable playing this kind of music because throughout the album you'll discover many Pink Floyd-hints. For instance the saxophone solo on Sail Away performed by Ferdinand Settele or the guitar parts played by Torsten Weber that sound as if David Gilmour recorded them. Even Yogi's vocals often reminded me of Mr. Gilmour's. In addition to Ferdinand Settele en Torsten Weber he got help from drummer Manni Müller who was the former drummer of RPWL before he was replaced by Marc Turiaux. However, the most surprising guest is Dominique Leonetti, the lead singer of the French prog band Lazuli. On Alison, a beautiful and mellow love song, he sings in his mother tongue. This is one of the few songs which don't resemble RPWL or Pink Floyd. Another surprising guest is Arena's bass player Ian Salmon. This time we don't hear him plucking his bass guitar, but he's the narrator on A Million Miles Away, which is one of the many typical Floyd-sounding tracks. Anne de Wolf deserves a special mention for playing the violin very tastefully on Say Goodbye, another great mellow piece with Pink Floyd-references.
We know that Mr. Lang is an excellent keyboard player which can be heard on all RPWL-releases. Many of his synthesizer solos sound as if Manfred Mann is sitting behind the controls of his MiniMoog. Such fabulous synthesizer solos we can also enjoy on No Decoder. These pieces like Sacrifice, the instrumentals Sensvalue and the title track belong to the highlights on the album. On these tracks Manni Müller and Torsten Weber are in great shape either. Manni's drive on the drums is excellent and the same applies for Torsten's guitar playing.
I would like to say a few words about the art work as well. It may look a bit cheap, but in many ways the art work done by Judith Reichart is cleverly done. It reminded me of the Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel and the Dutch painter Jeroen Bosch. They also created bizarre images of all kinds of different figures and elements looking very special. 'Special' is also the word that I would like to use to describe No Decoder. Maybe it's not a very original album, but you can hear that Yogi Lang put a lot of effort and time in the songs he recorded for this album. Therefore I can only be positive about this album which certainly is a 'must have' for all fans of RPWL and Pink Floyd. Well done, Yogi!
(We also did an Interview with Yogi)
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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