Mike Hans STEFFL - Calaboose Islands
Released: July 16
Bringing in a rather interesting and unique concept, German musician Mike Hans takes us to places that are solitary and beautiful while also possessing a sordid and dark history. The prison on an island has long been a common theme in the world real-life prisons and the world of movies and television. In his first release of the year, Hans takes us to some of these more famous places, the ones that no longer operate as prisons, but are either completely abandoned or serve as historical sites that are sometimes visited by the curious tourist. As he does this, he seems to catch a particular aura for each prison that each track is named after, all of which effectively capture the serene beauty of the island itself while being ever so slightly tainted by the somber history of what occurred there.
Some of the islands are well-known while others are lesser known. The album opens up with "Makronisos," the island that formerly ran as a political prison in Greece. The track opens up so serenely, inviting us to gaze upon the wonder of this uninhabited isle in the Aegean Sea with shimmering pads and heavenly textures. Then, at nearly the halfway point of the track, these heavenly textures give way to tense arpeggios and more menacing pads, telling us the story of the islands dark past. While this may be a lesser-known prison for some, there is also probably the most famous of all, "Alcatraz." This just happens to be my favorite as Hans has managed to capture a sense of intrigue around this island. This track has a more intense cinematic style that, to me, conveys the history of escape attempts from this prison while acknowledging its sordid history. But it certainly conveys intrigue more than anything, and it is quite fitting.