When Daniel began making songs again last summer it was on donated software and borrowed instruments. That's because two years earlier, in a fit of depression, he had quit his band (post-rockers turned synthed-out indie soul group Judah Johnson), sold all of his gear and stopped making music for the first time since he could remember. It was the kind of drastic decision that gets made when there don't appear to be any other options.
Eventually, though, passion and time won out and Daniel's deeply musical nature emerged again in the form of avante pop and futuristic-soul songs. He broke the silence with "Goldversion," an experiment which came out sounding like a cross between Al Green and Kraftwerk. With a lyric consisting solely of the mantra "In love," it was unlike anything he had ever written before and its vocoded croon and out-of-synch synth arpeggiations triangulated a vision for him of a new sound somewhere between the classic German synth music of Cluster and early Tangerine Dream and the progressive r'n'b of D'angelo's Voodoo.
More songs soon followed: the unsettling slow jam "Hard Core," the Zen poem meets Motorik beat of "Goodbye Silhouette," the synth-bubbly afrobeat of "Sugar Fish," and "Arrows For Ever," which sounds like an acoustic Prince ballad circa Sign of the Times until a blast of distorted keyboard pads drowns everything out.
Lazrus is the sound of Daniel's reconnection to music, the result of a two-year separation from the talent he loves most. It's a breakthrough not only because it's the first affirming music he's made after a history of being stuck in a minor key, but because it's his first overt embrace of soul music - that odd frequency somewhere between melancholy and joy he tuned himself to during his Motown-soundtracked early years as a white kid in a black city.
Though it was mostly home-recorded, it sounds bigger than a laptop: Daniel fulfilled a long-standing wish to play all of the instruments himself, from drums to glockenspiels (with the exception of a handful of gorgeous overdubs by members of Zoos of Berlin and Judah Johnson), and he feels its performances are the most inspired work he's ever done.
Like its title, Lazrus sounds like a slurred resurrection - dirty, confused, holy and gorgeous.