It has already been five years again since the last Sack & Blumm full length. For those who don’t know, they are the duo of Harald “Sack” Ziegler and Frank Schültge Blumm, both known through various solo releases, many of them also on Staubgold. Their last album “Kind Kind” (“child child”) entirely focused on children because apparently one or both of them had become father around the time of recording that album. “Kind Kind” also sort of had an African vibe to it, mostly because they were playing African instruments, such as the Mbira or the Kalimba on it.
“Returns” is a different affair now. Some tunes (e.g. “Blogshock Superfrog” or “Quakecake Snake” or “Queen Cootie”) are very goofy with deep tuba tones and a lack of melody. They could maybe be compared to the sounds on their first EP for Staubgold and their album for Tomlab records. Others have the typical Sack & Blumm vibe to them, i.e. combine the mellowness of F.S. Blumm and the weirdness of Harald “Sack” Ziegler. Those are mostly the longer songs, especially “Sparkman Smeargie”, “Lord Led Lyn”, “Pikachu Backhand” or “Ho Oh Belgium”. They are also the most melodic and warm sounding tunes on the disc. Especially “Ho Oh Belgium” is a perfect example of what Sack & Blumm are capable of – creating very slow and sort of sketchy soundscapes that are both playful and maturely well composed.
It would have been really great if the album would have featured more of such longer and more evolved tunes. The large amount of rather short snippets prevents “Returns” from flowing smoothly from beginning to end. Maybe that is what Sack & Blumm intended when making the album. But the longer the tunes get the better they are. Their sound simply needs some time to evolve. Maybe they had just too many ideas, which – after all – is not a bad thing at all. Despite the slight lack of focus and due to the really great longer tunes, “Returns” is a very fine album recommendable to anyone who likes rather sketchy German post-rock. 7/10 -- Stephan Bauer (4 March, 2009)