News / / 21.05.14


Bécs (Editions Mego)

Christian Fennesz is a singular artist. Skirt past his numerous and multifaceted collaborative material with the likes of Ryuchi Sakamoto and his stint as one third of experimental electroacoustic supergroup Fenn O’Berg, and you’ve got a consistent run of high quality investigations into the limits of combining the intimacy of live recording with the disorientating impersonality of digital manipulation.

For those of us who found 2008’s Black Sea a tad too austere, a bit too bleakly reflective of its taken-literally-title – those of us who patiently, quietly prayed for a return to the sunnier climes of the superlative Endless Summer/Venice double bill – will be delighted to know the Viennese Powerbook mangler’s back on Peter Rehberg’s legendary Editions Mego label, and he’s sounding pleasantly poppy. That’s ‘poppy’ in the way Wire magazine would use the term, but Bécs is nonetheless awash with gorgeously rich moments of melodic clarity. Witness the sky-scraping desert guitar that pierces through the centre of Liminality, or the gently percussive strums that waft over Static Kings. The latter is the most overly Fennesz-y track on the album, a crystalline clarification of the man’s MO; it fizzles, it cracks, it hisses, it leaks, it degrades and rots, all while sounding pristinely gorgeous. Darkness occasionally threatens to rain on this parade-of-the-sublime (the title track is full on capital ‘N’ Noise), but you take the rough with the smooth. And when the smooth is as spectrally wonderful as the majority of this album is, that’s a small price to pay.

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Words: Josh Baines