When they were asked to record a 40-second jingle for a TV ad in 2000, Tommi Eckart and Inga Humpe probably never expected it to launch a solid career in electronic pop. But the tune was catchy enough to stick and a year later they made their debut as 2raumwohnung with the album Kommt Zusammen ("come together"). The couple had been recording since they met in the old East Berlin where both settled shortly after the city was unified. Now it was time for awards, hits and even a run of 33 weeks on the German charts for a later album.
  There are so many guitar bands in the world that they have to go against the grain a bit, says Inga. Their music is light, danceable pop – the kind that sounds like it's been around forever and doesn't seem to have a limited shelf life.
  Inga writes the lyrics and considers it very hard work, though she enjoys it a lot. "It always feels like a huge mountain I have to climb," she explains, "and I want to write texts I can still take on stage in ten years." You don't have to be fluent in German to hear that the lines and rhymes are tight and that she comes up with some lovely images. She sings them in a wistful, airy voice over smooth arrangements and deceptively simple tunes.
  The album Melancholisch Schön ("melancholical beautiful") might be a good place to start. It has 12 of the duo's best-known songs re-recorded and given a bossa nova flavour. The one that benefited most from this treatment was "Sexy Girl", the single from their debut, which became a big club hit again.
  The band has done unusual things, like playing Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. It was called a "music discovery project" and meant to blur the lines between musical genres.
  Their latest, last year's Achtung Fertig ("ready, set"), was recorded mostly in California and influenced, according to them, by the latest sounds drifting through Los Angeles. The usual undercurrent of melancholy is a bit stronger this time and it might overwhelm some tracks, but the CD offers as much as the earlier songs.
  I often listen to several 2raumwohnung albums back to back. What I get from them is something comforting for long drives, awkward parties and those times when I go a little dark, sitting alone in the work-from-home office.

Posted on 7 October 2014