When I think of ALTER EGO, I see four hands twisting and turning the buttons full-throttle. These hands belong to the bodies of ROMAN FLÜGEL and JÖRN ELLING WUTTKE, and if the buttons they keep twisting and turning didn’t have a stop, i.e. if they weren’t buttons at all but wheels, they’d probably turn three or four times on their own axis until they got really dizzy. Instead, they meet the persistent resistance head on with every new »krrrr« and »uiiihhh« or »brmmm« sound at the end of each of their own revolution. Whether they hiss a soft »Geht..s noch?«, or not, is inaudible at that volume, but not unthinkable. For the two men at the other end of the arms, however, whose hands relentlessly continue turning and twisting everything the machines have on offer, there’s always room for a little more. You could say: Roman and Jörn simply enjoy spinning the wheel.
When I think of Alter Ego, I think of friendship and family and one of the most wonderful German label conglomerates: PLAYHOUSE, KLANG, ONGAKU. And one of the most creative control centres of electronic music, which is still located somewhere between Offenbach and Frankfurt and it bothered by what goes on in Paris, Berlin or London. Why try your luck elsewhere, when you’ve got clubs like the ROBERT JOHNSON, COCOON and Frankfurt Airport right in front of your doorstep? You can recognise true cosmopolitans by their love of their native surroundings.
When I think of Alter Ego, I see black T-shirts with ACID JESUS in big letters across the front hanging on a clothes rack in the old Cologne and Frankfurt »DELIRIUM« shops. The early and mid-90s. Boy, what a long time ago. I can see the HARTHOUSE records with their big hard-trance hits standing in the shelf, selling by the dozen every Saturday morning to young ravers who hadn’t slept yet and didn’t intend to go to bed before Monday. Vinyl was our daily bread, the rave-o-lution had only just begun and Roman and Jörn were already in the midst of things. With Harthouse and their friend SVEN VÄTH, they released their first Alter Ego album in 1994. ACID JESUS! What a divine name.
When I think of Alter Ego, I think of style, elegance and eloquence. Of two gentlemen in electronic music who have an uncanny knowledge about music itself, especially pop and techno. Who you can not only party really well with but also have really good conversations. Jörn Elling Wuttke probably knows more gossip and chitchat from a thousand and one long nights than Andy Warhol, and he tells them better than Truman Capote. And Roman Flügel? Better-looking than Richard Claydermann and plays the piano just as well, has created classics of modern electro with projects such as SOYLENT GREEN, ROMAN IV and EIGHT MILES HIGH. With their shared freethinking sidekick SENSORAMA, they easily earned themselves a place between Aphex Twin and Mouse on Mars. They also commissioned video clips that were showered with prizes and deserve to be exhibited in a pop museum. These two old rockers are the PET SHOP BOYS of techno. Inseparable and forever young.
When I think of Alter Ego, I immediately hear the drinking anthem »BETTY FORD«: this manic bass so aptly mirrored the sound of the time, the taste of the drinks and the drugs going round back then in the late 90s. »Betty Ford« was and is typically Alter Ego: simple and clever, blunt and sharp. The fact that they landed yet another hit years later with »ROCKER«, the fact that they actually managed to weld together this perfect symbiosis of pop song and techno track and even take the British charts by storm – should have been perfectly obvious from day one. »Rocker« has gone down in music history. Something not everyone has got.
When I think of Alter Ego, I think of friendliness and humour, of this particular easy-going attitude and subtle irony that is, alas, hard to find among most techno producers. It’s as if their work is always accompanied by an almost invisible smile, as Jörn puts it, when he turns the dials to the limit and you can both hear and physically watch the pure joy the music gives him. There’s probably not a single festival worldwide where they haven’t shared this joy and happiness with ecstatic people on the dance floor. When Alter Ego comes on, it sets the place on fire. Or as Jörn would say: in a state of reverence.
When I think of Alter Ego, I notice how much this project, especially and at the latest, but not only with »Rocker«, continually revives good old techno music, which was once thought to be dead, but also everything that goes by the name of »new«, »nouveau« or »nu« in its genre, everything that bangs or digitalises and lets off steam between rock and disco. Without these two divine geniuses, the inventors of sophisticated techno and upholders of straight bass drums, all this would be unthinkable.
When I think of Alter Ego, I think of two guys who have definitely got a screw loose, who have dedicated themselves to electronic music, techno and pop culture for more than two decades in a certain way that not only the buttons feel dizzy. And they still haven’t had enough. That is why Roman Flügel and Jörn Elling Wuttke mark the 10th anniversary of the band by spinning the wheel round once more that they themselves invented. »WHY NOT?« is not just a typical Alter Ego album title, but also a typical Alter Ego album: simple and clever, blunt and sharp. Let there be rock!