Back in the Eighties, the Shiny Gnomes were one of Germany’s hottest psychedelic bands, with a reputation of being their country’s answer to The Jesus And Mary Chain. A couple of releases on a major label in the late Eighties and early Nineties didn’t bring the hoped for breakthrough, so that their vocalist Limo continued with his new projects Discolor and The God Box. Still not tired after nearly a quarter century of musical activities, he’s now back as St. Stephen, a new incarnation where he plays all kinds of different instruments: acoustic and electric guitars, bouzouki, piano, organ, mellotron, glockenspiel and harmonica. Assisted by Zattl (When Skipjack Tripped, Supergroup and many even more obscure bands) on electric guitar and production, his debut album Behold has turned out to become an intimate snapshot that finds an agreeable balance between introspective country music and lo-fi psychedelia. With the help of musician friends like Tatjana Schewtschenko (Bluet) on backing vocals, Manna Knauthe on bass guitar, Tobias Birke on drums and some more more, Limo has crafted eleven cosy songs full of dreamy atmospheres whose frugal production are perfect for this kind of guitar layered psyche indie rock. Limo’s voice takes some getting used to, in case you are not familiar with his past, but once you gained access to his musical vision, there is no getting out any more.

The decades of rock’n’roll lifestyle must have left their traces, considering how he has evolved from a dope fiend to a Hope Fiend, the title of one of his best songs on Behold. Other highlights include the more energetic Soul Shine and later on the melancholic On Your Wing with its warm mellotron sound.

Behold is certainly not the album that will make Limo accessible to the masses, but that has certainly not been the intention. St. Stephen have released a remarkable album on a small independent label that is more intent on quality than success, and I can’t think of a more fitting soundtrack for the first warm days of spring. Never exciting, Behold prefers to embrace its audience in a warm atmosphere of sincere and sparsely yet intensely performed psychedelic indie country gems.