Neue Musik aus Berlin featuring Maximilian Hecker and barbara Morgenstern at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Wednesday (January 28). $10. 416-598-4753. www.kitty-yo.net Rating: NNNNN
Berlin-based balladeer Maximilian Hecker, specializing in poperatic hymns of heartbreak, has a flair for the melodramatic that would turn Morrissey positively viridian with envy. That the avowed Britpop aficionado, notorious for busking Oasis tunes in the Hackesche Markt, swears he's never heard anything by the Smiths or the Mozzer suggests that our brooding young song stylist also has a sense of humour.
On Hecker's latest tearjerker epic, Rose (Kitty-Yo), deftly produced by UK synth supremo Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Erasure, Nitzer Ebb), the delicate crooner uses his fragile falsetto to explore the anguish of unrequited love, beginning with the head-turning lead track, Kate Moss.
Depending on your perspective, the song could either be taken as a boyishly charming appreciation of a popular supermodel or a chilling threat from a delusional fan. We'll leave it up to Moss's lawyers to decide.
"I am fascinated by Kate Moss," allows Hecker from his Berlin home. "I wanted to know more about her than what I could see in the photographs, so I rented the documentary movies Catwalk and Unzipped.
"Afterwards I had a dream that I was backstage at a fashion show and Kate Moss was about to go on and... umm... I kissed her. That's all I can tell you. Oh god, I think I've already said too much."
It would be interesting to hear how Moss feels about Hecker's ode. Despite the song's intriguing refrain - "Don't call back, she said" - Hecker insists he hasn't tried to get in touch with Moss.
"I'm not a stalker! I'm not obsessed with Kate Moss, but I am curious to find out how she'll react. I know someone who works at Dazed And Confused magazine who offered to give a copy of my disc to Kate Moss. So we'll see. Perhaps if we meet I will say nothing and she will feel pity for me and stroke my hair."
Who knows? If Moss is a closet John Denver fan she might actually enjoy Hecker's Rose disc. His song My Story quotes (sans credit) the "West Virginia, mountain mama" tag line from Denver's sing-along classic Country Roads. "When I was young, we would sing Christian songs at the YMCA along with Country Roads. But in the song My Story, I sing 'West Virginia, mountain mama, take me higher,' not 'take me home ,' so it's different." Despite the lasting impression left by Country Roads, Hecker doesn't consider Denver's music an important influence. The jarring junglist rumble of My Love For You Is Insane might lead you to believe that Hecker's been getting into some drum 'n' bass lately - he records for the trendy Kitty-Yo label, after all. Yet Hecker confesses that the frenetic breakbeats were just thrown in "to be provocative." He prefers the slower and sadder stuff.
"The music I've listened to for the last 20 years has always had a melancholic feeling. Even when I was young, my favourite songs were Hello by Lionel Richie, Mandy by Barry Manilow, and Without You by Harry Nilsson. Those are my favourite style of songs - slow, melancholic ballads - which is now my style.
"That doesn't mean I'm always feeling melancholic myself. People might think I never smile, but in fact I'm very happy when I'm writing those sad songs. And when I sing them I feel euphoric!" firstname.lastname@example.org