Archive for the Album reviews Category

Thomas Feiner and Anywhen – The Opiates

Posted in Album reviews on January 9, 2011 by Bruno

I know, I know. I promised you a top ten of albums I discovered in 2010. Well, the best album of 2010 was Jamie Lidells Compass, with instant classics as ‘Your sweet boom‘, ‘Gipsy blood’ and ‘Coma Cameleon‘. But since all that is very last year, lets not spend money on old rope. Well, actually lets. Best discovery during these Christmas holidays was Thomas Feiners exquisite The Opiates. Let this be the first of a regular stream of album reviews.

The Opiates by Anywhen was first released in 2001. It started as a band effort, but during the recording process, the band fell apart. Thomas Feiner finished it, giving it the richly produced sound that we will try and sell to you in the minutes to come. Strangely, the album wasn’t picked up by the public. Until one David Sylvian lay his hands on it and re-released the album on his Samadhisound label.

The album opens with a comforting canapé of strings, dragging you into what is an absolute gem of a love song: The Siren Songs. What if love is the greatest damn liar of all, would you trust me with your life?

This is classical pop. This is a love song, so dark, so sad, so intoxicating, so bewildering, so enwrapping, so disarming. This is Scott Walker, this is David Sylvian who grew some hair on his balls. I want to drown in her precious arms, I want to listen to the siren songs.

The whole album is drenched in classical orchestration, although this ship is just the vehicle for the absolute star: Feiners voice. Be it the haunting crooning on Dinah and the beautiful blue – originaly released in a far more rockier version on Anywhens sophomore album, or the gentle pleading on Scars and glasses, where the orchestra takes five and yields the spotlight to piano and guitar.

Postcard is Portishead as Portishead should sound, the pizzicato crepuscule only hunted away by the woodwinds halfway the song. All this tripedy hopedy clinky clanky magic opens up to a choir and a distorted guitar battling it out with a muted trumpet and the Warsaw Radio Symphony Orchestra at full strenght. The winding paths of this musical Oz will blow the wind right out of your lungs and I must confess it’s been a while since I’ve been left so bemused by a song. Just a postcard from ground level and below.

Next up Yonderhead slows things right down and hypnotizes you with an intro carpeted with piano, strings and woodwinds. Until Feiner deep baritone breaks the enchantment. Pick me up, animate me. Hook me up, and ignite me.

Mesmerene is a jumpy, nervy demonic incantation, vaguely reminiscent of Crime and the city solutions The Adversary. If I could do more than hold you, If I could do more than watch your tears. I wish we could name this place: ‘Oblivion’ and then be on our way.

Toy starts of with another neo-classical intro, with hobo and clarinet taking the spotlight, while For Now, a Feiner solo effort included on this re-issue, is a piano lament on par with Jacques Brels ‘Voir un ami pleurer’. The album closes with All that numbs you, a quintessential Feiner flagship, hovering above the common ground where Scott Walker, Nick Cave, classical music and jazz meet. I cannot praise this album enough. Get it!

Get well soon – Vexations

Posted in Album reviews, Rants on December 6, 2010 by Bruno

A concept album about stoicism by a German one man band. Okay, get your arse back here. There’s nothing to be scared about. Au contraire, mon cher Watson. I’m even making this the second participant in my randomly chosen top ten albums of 2010. Before any of you German-concept-album-liking freaks (we know where you live) point out that the album was released in Prussia at the end of 2009: I KNOW! But since this blog is all about ME, these are albums I discovered in 2010, so shut up.

If you think this might be a bit too highbrow for you, go back to your http://www.waynerooneyisagod.aargh or your http://www.pamelaandersonhasthenicesttitsever.cum. If you think the lyrics on this one might be a bit too pessimistic for you, get up, walk to your window and look outside. Anymore questions? Didn’t think so.

The voice behind Get well soon is Konstantin Gropper. His timbre has been compared to that of Tom Yorke. I couldn’t tell you, because every time Tom Yorkes voice echoes through the confines of my apartment, it’s being overpowered by the rolling thunder of my barfing. Gropper first caught our attention with his cover of Born Slippy. Konstantin didn’t put as much effort into his songtitles this time as he did on his previous album. What to think of the brilliant(ly named) Witches! Witches! Rest Now In The Fire, a song that would have sounded perfect on Hooverphonic’s Jacky Cane (you remember, those times long gone when we used to care what Alex Callier had come up with).

This second installment does continue in the same feel though. Seneca’s silence starts of with marimbas, before a Teutonian hord of Walkyres casts out the mariachi band. I’ll bring the poison, will you bring the knife? Very Sufjan Stevens if you ask me.

And then there’s A voice in the Louvre. An orchestral production that makes you wish Rufus Wainwright would brokebackmountain this German, so he can finally deliver that magnum opus we’ve all been yearning for. Not the happiest of tunes, lamenting: Deep in the swarm, hold on, mother, to these shaky hands. In open water, save me, father, from the rising flood. But what about that sweeping chorus, urged forward by a battalion of violins, marching to the sound of the Glöckenspiel, culminating in a grand outro you wished would never end. If only I wasn’t so afraid.

Werner Herzog gets shot is the strange tale of German film producer Werner Herzog… getting shot. Aureate! starts of with a harpsichord, before being interrupted by break beats, leading the way for the orchestra to take over. Angry young man delivers all it promises, before the album finishes of with We are the Roman Empire, an eulogy for so-called western civilisation. Top ten of the year? Elementary, my dear Watson.

David Sylvian – Sleepwalkers

Posted in Album reviews on December 5, 2010 by Bruno

If Scott Walker is the voice of God, then David Sylvian must surely be that of the Son and the Holy Ghost. Ever since Japan, the angelic murmurs of Sylvian have been able to sooth us after a day of mayhem. Secrets of the Beehive and Dead bees on a cake were just two of the very bright pearls Sylvian cast into a pitch dark sea of pop music. Unfortunately, David thought less was more and his two last efforts were a bit too minimal to our taste.

Sleepwalkers
is a compilation of rare collaborations spanning the last decade. A sort of best of with a twist. The title track springs into life with some noisy distortion, until Sylvian comes down from the heavens to preach to us: “Wake up from your cultural slumber, you fucking sleepwalkers.” A slow incantation that nestles itselfs in the back of your mind. Money for all starts in a trip hoppy kind of way, like Portishead on a summer holiday, until it evolves into a gospely singsong. Some of the tracks on this album were written with former Japan drummer Steve Jansen. Ballad of a deadman sees Policewoman Joan Wasser join their ranks, to make a country-folk ballad that slowly rides into the sunset.

Never shy of an experiment, Sylvian lends his voice to a bit of spoken-word next, before we bump into an old acquaintance: Ryuichi Sakamoto, World Citizen par exellence. Five lines, a sort of contorted piece of chamber music, brings us to another Nine Horses song The day the earth stole heaven. I’m optimistically inclined, Given time she’ll change her mind

Playground Martyrs is a little musical fingerling with Steve Jansen, swimming up a gentle river of piano and strings, before reaching eastern shores again with Exit/delete. This gentle guitar ballad on lost love, is a collaboration with multi instrumentalist Takagi Masakatsu.

Pure Genius, teams Sylvian up with Chris Vrenna, former Nine Inch Nail producer. Dark and eerie, a shining anachronism amidst soft treading jazzy efforts like Wonderful World, that is shattered to pieces by the brittle voice of Stina Nordenstam.

Transit
is a return to the minimalism of Sylvians latest albums, thanks to Austrian button tweaker Fennesz. Next up The world is everything, a piece of chamber music like Playground Martyrs sets the stage for Thermal, the spoken word piece for Arve Henriksens Cartography. Sugarfuel is an itchy, nervous, luscious, drum and bass driven ballad that leads us to the Trauma of goodbye, that last one a throbbing of gentle, yet discomforting noises, leaving you startled and vulnerable after a journey through the many faced garden of Sylvians world.