In 1999, Florian Fleischmann and Axel Hirn moved from Vienna to Berlin only to be confronted with stubborn prejudice and the usual ‘Kruder & Dorfmeister-influenced bedroom producer scene’ comparisons which every musically inclined native of Vienna at home at the intersection of dub, house and reggae has probably encountered at some point. Challenge number two was the band’s need to carve out their own, distinctive niche to differentiate themselves from Berlin’s redoubtable heavyweights, Rhythm & Sound. Like so many others, Hirn and Fleischmann were producing in their bedrooms, twiddling knobs and bringing together reggae, dub and house. But that’s where the similarities ended. Noiseshaper were dirtier, rootsier; live instruments featured prominently in their sound, knocking any accusations of R&S plagiarism well and truly on the head. Florian Fleischmann has always emphasised his classic reggae background and love of Toots & The Maytals, The Harder They Come and, of course, Bob Marley. For him reggae is far more than just a fashionable music style with some atmospheric burbling: it is music with an important message.
In 2001, the band released the album “Prelaunch Sequence” on the renowned Different Drummer label. “Rise”, “The Only Redeemer” (feat. Vido) and “Moving Together” (feat. Wayne Martin) are the stand-out tracks on the album and are featured on “Real To Reel”. When it was released, “Prelaunch Sequence” fell into the void torn open by the end of the digi-dub movement in the UK. Predating the first monster hits for the German dancehall scene, the album was sinfully neglected here, perhaps due to the faint techno associations of the album title and the brittle transitions between dub, reggae and house elements. Things were different on other side of the Atlantic, where numerous college radio stations put Noiseshaper’s version of reggae on heavy rotation. Although “Prelaunch Sequence” wasn’t a great hit, it did impressively avoid the usual clichés and the CD is now a highly sought-after collector’s item.
It was more than two years before Noiseshaper released their second album, “The Signal”, which is represented on album “Real To Reel” by “All A Dem A Do”, “You Take Control”, “Jah Dub” and “Dunk”. The album could have been the band’s breakthrough: featuring the G-Corp-MC singer Juggla, a sound system veteran from Birmingham and a perfect vocalist for Noiseshaper, it toned down the house elements in favour of a deep, conscious reggae sound. The single “All A Dem A Do” became a radio hit in Germany and Austria. Everything was looking really good; too good, in fact: shortly after the album was released the independent distribution company Efa went bust and most of the copies of “The Signal” got dragged into the protracted bankruptcy proceedings. It would have come as no surprise if this had been the end of Noiseshaper, particularly because Axel Hirn moved from Berlin to London where he has since worked as a sound engineer in Adrian Sherwood’s On U Sound studio. However, the long distance relationship has not harmed the band’s unique alchemy. A couple of tracks on “Real To Reel” has passed through the genius hands of dubmaster Adrian Sherwood, has been chased through the nooks and crannies of his magic mixing desk in London. And for dub, that’s the musical equivalent of being knighted.
The album “Rough Out There”, represented here by the TVS remix of “Walls Of Silence”, Kid Kenobi’s remix of “Bushmaster” and two versions of the title track, was released in 2005 and is arguably Noiseshaper’s most mature album. Juggla became a permanent member of the band, giving them a real front man and a highly distinctive vocalist. Juggla describes the very special chemistry which unites the three band members: “We’re not interested in the clash and bashment culture of dancehall reggae. That’s simply not our world. We represent conscious roots reggae. I don’t want to stand at the mic dissing women or singing about burning “heretics” in some fire.” Asked if the title “Rough Out There” refers to the band’s difficult years, Florian says that it is more a description of the world. The band themselves are comparatively happy but, “the world has become a rougher place. There are so many wars, so many people suffering. It’s rough out there. And for as long as that continues, our music will represent harmony and we will stand up against violence and war. That’s how we want our music to sound.”
Noiseshaper’s remixes effortlessly transport this message. The most prominent musicians to get a Noiseshaper remix so far have been Sly & Robbie, which is another giant accolade. The band worked their magic on “Vice Vanity”, giving it a decisively different spin. Another remix that displays the band’s sheer class is their version of Ari Up’s wired “Me Done” and Carl Douglas hit “Kung Fu Fighting”
So far in history:
2001 – album Prelaunch Sequence on Different Drummer
2003 – album The Signal on Different Drummer
2005 – album Rough Ou There on Echo Beach
2006 – album Real to Reel on Echo Beach
2009 – album Satellite City on Cat´n Roof Records
2019 – album KING SIZE DUB on Echo Beach
Singles, Ep´s etc :