Haunts was German Error Message’s first full-length release if you go by Discogs catalog, though a peek onto the German Error Message bandcamp page will show you a world a music dating back to 2008. This album was originally released in 2014 on a limited edition cassette. Paul Kintzing, the solo artist behind German Error Message, has favored that format with this band. There’s a possibility he’s strayed in the past, but to my knowledge, this is his first time issuing a release on vinyl, and a highly limited pressing at that!
Haunts comes in a hand numbered edition of just 100 on orange vinyl via Furious Hooves.
I’ve always liked the stripped down lo-fi folk sounds of German Error Message. In my 2013 premiere of “There’s A Place” off The Lifting, I wrote:
It’s stripped down, often split between fully acoustic and a light hint of electric guitars, fairly minimal with songs and lyrics centered around stories.German Error Message: “There’s A Place” Premiere (FensePost, 2013)
Let’s take a deeper look at the music within Haunts.
Haunts is a Fitting Title
These lo-fi sounds remain vigilant and in the forefront here. Take “A Held Breath,” for example. There’s an inherent lo-fi quality to it with the focus melody from an acoustic guitar at the forefront, and a subtle, heavily distorted and reverb-laden electric in the background. Layered vocals enter with a banjo to take the song home at the end.
Hear for yourself…
When I wrote a feature on the band just over ten years ago, I highlighted the comparison others have made between Kintzing’s music and that of The Microphones.
Oddly enough, the band has garnered comparison to local haunts like The Microphones. This is only partly true, as that band’s repertoire features both soft songs and loud ones. German Error Message is soft all around, but there are definite similarities in the two bands’ vocal styling.German Error Message Feature (FensePost, 2011)
Ten years later, the sentiment remains mostly true. I hear the vocal similarities, but I also can find parallels and similarities in some of the music the two bands create, especially if you throw the softer side of Phil Elverum’s Mount Eerie project into the mix.
Here’s “I Know the Shape” for example:
The album’s title, Haunts, is quite descriptive of the music you’ll find within. There’s a surreal, introspective quality to the music that gets inside your head and feeds at you a bit. The hooks are catchy, but not overly so. The songs are upbeat but have an underlying sadness. This back-and-forth contradictory nature is what makes Haunts great.
If I were to find one complaint about the album, it’s that the eight songs are over before you can blink.
German Error Message has Superb Packaging
The packaging is of great quality with crisp imagery (the photo was blurry to begin with). Inside the sleeve is a lyric insert. I’ve always been impressed with the packaging and detail of German Error Message’s highly limited edition releases, and have both The Lifting and Mend on cassette.
I’m equally impressed with the vinyl itself. The orange wax is great, and draws connection to the orange in the cover photo. It’s not flimsy, as you see with a lot of the wax pressed in vinyl’s original heyday. The sound is crisp and clean, without pressing flaws you get on occasion with colored wax.
Plus, it looks good on the turntable.
Sadly, due to the highly limited nature of this pressing, it sold out almost immediately. But you can still grab it on bandcamp, along with the rest of German Error Message’s music.