Posts Tagged ‘Crime & The City Solution’

Broken Clover Records – 19th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Danielle De Picciotto is a true polyartist, as an exhibiting artist, an author, and musician, who has sung with Crime & The City Solution and Space Cowboys. She co-initiated the Berlin Love Parade in 1989 and “The Ocean Club” together with Gudrun Gut, and has been producing music under the hackedepicciotto moniker with husband Alexander Hacke, founding member of Einstürzende Neubauten, for the last twenty years.

The Element of Love, her third solo album, is an intriguing affair, drawing on elements of experimentalism and spoken word and placing them to the fore. It’s a curious hybrid of sparse, droning instrumentation, and narrative pieces delivered quite dryly, with low-key orchestral instrumentation.

For the most part, the backing is subtle, spacious, and there is a palpable sense of distance and wonderment. ‘Is anybody out there?’ she asks, breathlessly, on opener, ‘Sea of Stars’, and the narrative pieces which occupy the album are an interesting blend of postmodernism and mysticism, referencing Harry Potter and more serious magic, as well as a host of cultural touchstones both obvious and oblique. Precisely what the lyrical bent of The Element of Love is, is unclear, but space, superheroes and, as the title suggests, elemental forces, appear to be central themes

Third track, ‘Solitude’ is a murky morass or extraneous noise, a distant grind and an ethereal vocal off in the distance: with its rhythmic industrial gratings it’s reminiscent of 90s Swans and Jarboe. In contrast, the title tracks is a sedate, string-led instrumental that simply exists in its own space and time, while ‘Who Am I’ is more overtly electronic, with dripping analogue notes and a simple beat reminiscent of Young Marble Giants’ primitivism. The majority of the album is simple, minimal, and in many ways the reconstructed sound installation of the record is all there is. On the surface, The Element of Love is very much a wandering around a certain sameness, and it’s not until one spends time and delves into the details that the depths and differences reveal themselves and reveal the range, which lies in the tone, texture, and mood.

For the most part, The Element of Love is swampy and murky and difficult to define in any sense, lyrically or musically – but especially musically, as it hangs in mid-air, undecided about its identity as so many of the common and popular tropes point toward the dimly-lit back of the auditorium. But don’t let that be a deterrent: there is much to discover here.

AA

a0009307537_10

Potomak – 31st January 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

hackedepicciotto is Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten) and Danielle de Picciotto (Crime & The City Solution), and The Current is their fourth album It’s pitched as being ‘their most powerful album yet,’ and the press release explains that ‘after composing desert drones for their previous album Perseverantia and dark foreboding melodies for Menetekel, their new album moves forwards, gaining in speed and energy’.

The energy is abundant, but it’s dark and flows in subterranean currents. Recorded in Blackpool, of all places, there is little sense of illumination in a work that’s dominated by shadow, although that’s by no means a criticism.

‘All people / are created equal’ de Picciotto announces in a stilted monotone which echoes out across a bleak and solemn soundscape of atmospheric, picked guitar and dramatic strings which glide and swoop over a swirl of electronic crackles, indistinguishable voices and dolorous bells. Over the course of the piece, she utters various permutations of the phrase, revealing new meanings with each arrangement.

There is very much an exploratory feel to The Current: this is not an overtly linear work, or an album comprised of songs in the conventional sense. These are eleven distinct ‘pieces’ which are more spoken word / narrative works with music than anything, although this misrepresents the fact the words and sounds are very much equal in their billing. And yet there is a sense of progression, as the rhythms become stronger, more forceful, and more dominant as the album progresses.

‘Onwards’ plunges downwards with a grating bass pitched against a relentlessly rolling rhythm; ethereal, choral vocal harmonies and cold, cold synths forge an unusual juxtaposition, and the result is powerful, stirring deep-seated emotions that swell in the chest as the energy rises.

In contrast, ‘Metal Hell’ goes post-industrial with metallic clattering an scraping disrupting a choppy, processed guitar riff that cuts a murky path over an arrhythmic mess of percussion, and the title track thunders a slow martial beat to build a grandly epic piece that conjures images of sweeping vistas dominated by rugged mountains and dense forests.

Things take a turn for the unsettling on ‘Petty Silver’, which finds de Picciotto writhe and wheeze in a sort of little girl lost voice against a backdrop of chiming xylophone and a heavy synth grind that’s pure Suicide. The penultimate track, ‘The Black Pool’ opens with a cluster of samples from news soundbites or similar about ow ‘the UK is fucked’ (fact, not an opinion) over some swirling ambient drone and a Michael Gira-esque monotone vocal trip

When the pair share vocal duties, Hacke’s cracked, grizzled growl is the perfect contrast to de Picciotto’s clean, airy yet tense and high-string delivery. And it’s the contrasts that make The Current: it isn’t any one thing, but a number of things simultaneously and while the rhythm section resonates deep and low, there’s lot going on at the front of the mix, and it’s this dynamic that gives the album a constant movement. To dissect it beyond this would be do damage the effect: The Current is an album that possesses a subtle force and brings submersion by stealth.

AA

hackedepicciotto – The Current