With a spring in his step, he strolls down Loopy Avenue, his winding walk of life. He does so with the cool cheerfulness of a man who has long found his way forward, with the wisdom of someone who has seen the world, but also with the curiosity and vivacity of someone who knows that “Love Comes Around Twice In a Lifetime.” At least twice.
His name is Maloo, Kurt Maloo. He became world famous in the mid-eighties as part of the inspired Swiss pop duo Double. Today, “Loopy Avenue” achieves the seemingly impossible: A revival that is also forward looking.
For Kurt Maloo “Loopy” means both “crazy” and the meandering of existence. The album brings together songs from three generations, while still producing a uniform collection. “Despite the incredibly heterogeneous creative process, it turned out to be a very well balanced production, not least thanks to Pit Baumgartner (De-Phazz), who co-produced the record with me,” Maloo explains.
There are four Double tracks from the 80s, which are revived in a new sound, three new solo songs, plus five reworked tracks from the 90s that have not been heard before. “Felix Haug and I disbanded the Double project at the end of the eighties due to musical differences. In the late 90s, we joined forces again in the studio purely for the love of making music together.”
Double have remained in demand anyway. “Our manager Peter Zumsteg, who still publishes my songs today, kept on getting offers by remixers, but there was never anything that really excited us.” In 2004, Felix Haug suddenly died of a heart attack. “Felix’ death made me take a look back at the last 20 years and take a new perspective on the work by Double and myself,” Maloo recalls. In this sense, “Loopy Avenue” not only presents the solo artist Kurt Maloo, but also contains the legacy of his partner Haug.
“Since I enjoy the music by De-Phazz, I asked Pit Baumgartner if he’d like to do a remix of ‘Devils Ball’. It was such a refreshing production that we were immediately keen to do more.” Maloo put a hold on his new solo project to work on an entire album with Baumgartner.
Stylish easy listening elements, jazzy pop melodies and solo highlights by the trumpet legend Herb Alpert and the virtuoso saxophonist Mel Collins create an incomparable tonal flavour. Of course, the pop jazz of the eighties shines through, with its soft, velvety tones. But it’s as if there were a camp fire blazing in the lounge: Instead of sounding icy cool, like most of the sounds from that era, and instead of the unbearable lightness of those years, there is also a melancholy feel that guarantees authenticity. It’s what distinguished Double from more superficial bands even back then.
Naturally, “The Captain of Her Heart” is included, which became a worldwide hit and stems from their first album “Blue”. The most successful Swiss song of all time has long become a radio classic, can be heard from Canada to Kathmandu, and is downloaded from the Web every day. Together with Baumgartner, Maloo has now turned the song into a wonderful duet with Pat Appleton, the singer of De-Phazz. “Pat was immediately excited about singing the song with me,” says Maloo. “She grew up in Liberia, Africa, and can remember singing “The Captain of Her Heart” in her children’s room as a young girl.” The new version is remarkable since the song portrays the perspective of a woman and now has a female voice singing it. The interaction between male and female voices gives the classic song a new dimension, twenty years after “Blue” was first released. Incidentally, the second album confused the industry around the world with the title “Dou3le”, i.e.: Double Three. Double were never like the other bands.
Kurt Maloo has been around the world and is a real traveller. It was initially a concept thing, as he himself admits: “The full moon was extremely red over the Hardbrücke in Zurich, so I imagined how it looked in Rangoon, Burma.” The result of that fantasy was “Rangoon Moon”, the first single of the new album. By now, Maloo has travelled to many places. “I first moved from Zurich to Paris, continued to write songs, released a solo album, married, became a father, moved from Paris to Hamburg, became a father for the second time, released a second solo album, recorded some new songs with Double, and – well it would take too long to list everything.” Maloo lives the present to the full. If “Loopy Avenue” is a kind of review, it certainly doesn’t look back in anger, and is instead a “look back forwards”. Maloo is in the middle of his life, is enjoying it and really means it when he sings: “Life Could Not Be Better”.
Is “Loopy Avenue” out of fashion? Perhaps. If that means the songs have content and atmosphere, then yes, Maloo’s songs are not in keeping with contemporary styles. In fact they are timeless. Because they reflect the meanderings of life, the to’s and fro’s and surprising u-turns during one’s lifetime. Pop for grown ups. Whoever liked Double back then will like Maloo today. Many 80s songs were eagerly anticipated, but once the glitzy wrapping was off the cover, there was nothing inside. They were empty. There is always a song at the core of Maloo’s work. One that still survives even when “merely” accompanied by acoustic guitar. Maloo proves he is still a master songwriter in his new track “Your Town” – simply beautiful, beautifully simple.
Perhaps it is that very special sense, that “pop sensibility”, as the English say, that characterises Double and makes some of their songs immortal. An instrumental version of “Woman of the World” is currently being aired a great deal by opinion-leading DJs on both sides of the Atlantic. Maloo and Double have long managed to penetrate club culture.
For “Loopy Avenue”, Maloo and Baumgartner created a sound that mixes the typical Double sound with the latest tonal dimensions. They include the fascinatingly exotic Asian pentatonics of “Rangoon Moon”, the repetitive charming loops in “Scarhearts”, and the tension in “Soultime” between percussive undercurrents and soothing murmurs. There is also the finger-tapping chorus of “Shoobedoobeedoo”, the reserved eroticism of the Trip-Hop inspired “Life Could Not Be Better”, and the cool jazzy title track, both rainy and dreamy: Every song has the right mood, and the album ultimately flows into the glorious pop refrain of “Twice In A Lifetime”. The songs are always borne up by Maloo’s voice, whose implicit, seductive nature has grown through the years.
The previously unreleased songs are the highlights of the album. “Loopy Avenue” shows that Double were far more than just “The Captain of Her Heart”. And Kurt Maloo is far more than just half of Double.
Why the title? “‘Loopy Avenue’ refers to an avenue in Paris that actually exists. I called it “loopy” when I lived there for seven years,” Maloo explains. “It is also a metaphor of life: I am fascinated by the spiral shape life takes. You return to places and situations you have already experienced. But you don’t just move in a circle, you move spirally, so you’re at the same place but on a different level. You experience similar things, but in a completely new way.”
Kurt Maloo is about to re-experience what he went through with Double and then later as a solo artist: Record release, promotion, meetings, excitement, doubt, satisfaction and moments of happiness.
He will experience them in a completely new way, but with the inner peace of a man who isn’t easily thrown off track. In artistic terms “Kurt Maloo vs. Double” closes a circle and paves the way for Maloo to relive the great successes of the past, as can be deduced from the metaphoric final track on the new album: “Twice In a Lifetime”.