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- Still Smiling by Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld
3 reviews. Add your own review.
The promo for this album turned up a few years ago and has been on fairly regular rotation here at Norman Towers ever since, with former Einsturzende Neubauten/Bad Seeds character Blixa Bargeld teaming up with Italian composer Teho Teardo for a collection of dusky chamber pop with Bargeld singing in both English and German at different points. Phil is saying that it reminds him of Neubauten’s landmark ‘Tabula Rasa’ LP, and I think it reminds me of his moodier works with Mr Cave such as ‘No More Shall We Part’ but with less obvious sentimentality, instead opting for quite desolate and lonely moods.
Sometimes the strange throbbing strings and chord sequences seem to repeat, but rather than feeling samey it gives the album the feel of a song cycle as opposed to a collection of individual pieces, which works rather well with the whole album maintaining a steady plodding tempo like a heartbeat running through all the tracks, and Bargeld’s voice proving supremely expressive whether he’s singing in a language you understand or not. The backing strikes a good balance, too, between subtle Craig Armstrong-ish electronics and live strings. It’s an intoxicating and powerful record, easily the equal of the most recent Bad Seeds one. If his other bands’ more romantic output appeals to you, prepare to be swept away all over again.
9/10 Mark Customer review, 31st December 2013
This record is creepy in a baroque, MR James way. The music creeps along like floorboards and settling armchairs when the lights are out. The vocals from founding Bad Seed Bargeld are fairly unsettling on tunes such as 'Come Up and See Me' but bar room beautiful on others especially 'Alone With the Moon'. The album has great warmth in places but you never get to relax as there is always a sinister creak ready to make sure you listen with the lights on. My first listen was at work on headphones whilst marking Sociology essays, it provided an inadequate soundtrack for that activity but worked much better at home at the end of a hectic day. If you like your music a bit more grown up, Euro flavoured and odd then this is for you. A contemporary classic for all ages.
9/10 Stephen Customer review, 2nd July 2013
Thank you, Norman Records, for bringing this album to my attention. Blixa was always the most talented and charismatic of the Bad Seeds and I loved his collaboration with Carsten Nicolai from a few years back, but I haven't heard anything by him for a while.
This collaboration with Teho Teardo (someone I'm not at all familiar with I'm afraid) has clearly got his creative juices going again because from the opening screech to the closing keyboard note every song on this album is stunning. I've got no idea what he's singing about because its mainly sung in German with only a few bits of English and Italian thrown in but as with Neubauten it doesn't really matter. Don't let the Neubauten link put you off from listening to this record though. There are no banging pipes or screaming dogs on this, just beautifully orchestrated strings and keys.
In fact I now realise I've been going on like it's a Blixa album when it isn't. So you are getting the best of two worlds really - all the dark, experimental and noisy stuff of Blixa mixed in with achingly sad cellos and an almost classical music style. Best track on here by far is "Come Up and See Me" which contains some of the most haunting and sad musical phrases I think I've ever heard. At the risk of bringing up another Blixa comparison, fans of Nick Cave will find plenty to chew over here as it's got the same 'feel' as some of Cave's earlier work e.g. 'Your Funeral' with disturbing, possibly pervy lyrics set to sad melodies and instrumentation.
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