Categories
classical

I-Wolf & Eduardo Raon – The Last Humppa

So, there is only one song. No album. The song is only 2.48. That’s right: 2.48. But I feel there is something magical going on here.

Here is the famous Casino Baumgarten in Vienna. The recording studio was renovated recently and brought back in the original state it was in in 1965. It probably is the only classical recording studio in the world that is still based mainly around original ’60s tube gear. The control room is still in its original condition from the second half of that decade — down to the tiniest of details, like the old telephones! The heart of the studio is a console that was built by WSW (Wiener Schwachstromwerke).

The Palace Baumgarten, close to the famous Palace Schönbrunn, was built in 1779. In 1892, a commissioned officer’s mess (‘Casino’) was integrated into the building, and the large hall, which would later become the studio’s biggest live room, was also built in this era. The beautiful main hall serves as a venue for concerts and other cultural events.

I-Wolf and Eduardo Raon use the acoustics of the ballroom as a third instrument. The other two? Piano and harp. They are not only played in the classical sense: both musicians use the instrument as percussion, alter the sounds and distort them in every possible way. The compositions are the result of live improvisations. There is no post-production.

I-Wolf is Wolfgang Schlögl who is active in the Vienna music scene since the mid-80s. In 1996 he founded the band Sofa Surfers and was one of the important producers in the famous Vienna lounge and downtempo scene. Since a couple of years, he is more and more involved in theatre music and composing for productions.

Eduardo Raon started in the late 90s as a harpist and not only works in the field of improvised new music, but also in pop and jazz. He is the resident harpist for Slovenska Kinoteka (Slovenien Cinemateque) for whom he composes and performs soundtracks for numerous films.

This project is the first collaboration between the two. In a way, it merges the loungy jazzy feel of Schlögl influence and the more emotional and melancholic touch added by Raon. ‘The Last Humppa’ is beautiful, but way too short. The video by Video by Georg Eggenfellner and Jasmin Baumgartner adds another dimension.

For now, we have to wait for more.

Casino Baumgarten by I-Wolf & Eduardo Raon will be released by Seayou Records this fall.

Categories
pop rock

My Friend Peter – Speak

The first thing I thought when I heard ‘Whitening’, the first single from Speak? This is the best pop song in years! And after I tried to put my emotions into intelligent words (I’m a former snobby music journalist after all): ‘Whitening’ is the hybrid baby of early 80s Rush and Talk Talk. Okay, with a little bit of 70s prog rock during the break. And a bit of Gary Numan.

Well, that sounds great, doesn’t it? The best period of Rush meets Talk Talk, one of the best pop gems ever. And it really sounds like that, won’t you agree?

Meet Benedikt Brands from Graz in Austria. A multi-instrumentalist and musical talent on so many levels. He plays in the High Brain, a psychedelic rock band. My Friend Peter is his solo project. He debuted in 2014 with Take A Look On The Other Side, a psychedelic pop album influenced by the 60s. Pink Floyd and Beatles aren’t far away on his second effort Entre les Trous de la Mémoire (2015) and the third one Is It Severe? (2016).

Nice albums, but the first weird pop tunes – blending different styles, taking influences from all kind of genres – are present on In Between (2017). The brilliant ‘Kraut in the Kitchen’ for example, where Benedikt blends krautrock with 60s beat, groovy funk-jazz and popcorn. Absolutely mental.

But Speak is on a different level. Because of a lot of different things. The sound of the bass, being one of them. That could be the most important, because it holds this album together. Benedikt searches for so many different takes on psychedelic pop music on this album that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of common ground. But then there is the bass. There is always the bass. Groovy, a bit funky. Always there. The bass.

That isn’t a surprise. His father is a double-bass player in a symphonic orchestra, his mother is a violin teacher. Benedikt plays nearly all instruments on Speak, recorded the album in his home studio, mixed it in Rio Studios, Vienna. Robert Neubauer did the mastering at Robotonstudio in Vienna. I was talking about a lot of different things that make this album brilliant? The warm, fuzzy production is also one of them.

Then there are the insane songs, their structure, melody, breaks. Single ‘Whitening’ isn’t the only jawbreaking song. ‘Intermission/Transition’ could have easily been an ultracool Stereolab song. The 10-minute pop song ‘Music to Go Anywhere’ is funky as hell (that bass!) and reminds me of the more psychedelic side of Blur.

Excellent tunes. Great album. Please make ‘Whitening’ the summer pop hit of 2020.

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Speak by My Friend Peter is released by Numavi Records.