Yellow Teeth: “Night Birds”

yellow_teeth_night_birds_cover_jpegVon Ridgecrest nach Sion

Ridgecrest hiess das Städtchen – eine Kleinstadt in der kalifornischen Wüste. Meine Weggefährten und ich erholten uns dort von einer langen Autofahrt, kochten Supermarkt-Käse-Macaroni auf dem Parkplatz vor unserem Motelzimmer und blickten die lange Strasse hinunter, im Hintergrund die Gipfel der Sierra Nevada. Klingt ein wenig klischeehaft, doch so hat es sich tatsächlich abgespielt. Gefehlt hat einzig die passende Musik. Als ich vor einigen Tagen das erste Mal Yellow Teeths Debütalbum «Night Birds» durchhörte, dachte ich mir: “Ach, wie gut er in diese Szenerie reinpassen würde, wie er auf der Ladefläche eines dreckigen Pickups seine Lieder vorträgt.”

“Night Birds” erzählt Geschichten

Es sind simple Verse, sanftes Gitarren-Picking, die eindringlichen Mundharmonika-Klänge, welche uns die Geschichten lebhaft vor Augen führen. Das wohl beeindruckendste und ergreifendste Element der zehn Folksongs ist aber die Stimme. Manchmal überschlägt sie sich und manchmal werden Wörter fast verschluckt. Die Geschichten erhalten aber gerade dadurch Authentizität. Man glaubt keine Sekunde lang, dass Tiziano Zandonella, der hinter dem Künstlernamen Yellow Teeth steckt, leere Floskeln runterrasselt.

Ohne Pathos und frei von abenteuerlichen Effekten entfalten die Songs auf dem Album ihre Wirkung vollends. Der Song «Lou Jane» etwa mit dem Mundharmonika-Solo, das einen bis in die Träume verfolgt, ist schlichtweg schaurig schön. Und hätte Yellow Teeth vor sechs Jahren in Ridgecrest von der Ladefläche eines Pickups «Love comes from her heart, love comes from her heart» in die trockene Wüstenluft gerufen, er hätte uns die perfekte amerikanische Idylle beschert.

“Night Birds” wurde am 29.08.2014 veröffentlicht (Vitesse Records)

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OY: “Life is like a mobile phone your unit comes, your unit goes…”

 

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Akwaaba! Welcome to the  “No Problem Saloon”, the second album from OY, (previously released under the name “Kokokyinaka” last year on Creaked Records), this time repackaged on the Belgian label, Crammed Discs and featuring some extra tracks.

OY are a Berlin-based duo composed of Swiss-Ghanaian vocalist, story-teller, musician, sound sampler Joy Frempong and mysterious drummer & producer Lleluja-Ha. This album is a refreshing, improvised breeze of African-influenced electronica based on a road trip that absorbed sounds and experiences from Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso and South Africa. Tales, proverbs and folklore were gathered along the way to be retold in an experimental, kaleidoscopic style, at times dark and mercurial, other times as joyful as walking through an African market place. As OY sings: “Life is like a mobile phone your unit comes, your unit goes”…

 A charmingly beguiling, left-of-centre, musical adventure

The slam of a taxi door becomes a drum, an antiquated washing machine provides a bass sound, conversation and street noises drift in and out of songs, the lyrics naturally develope from the stories and fragments of popular African wisdom encountered along the way. It makes for a charmingly beguiling, left-of-centre, musical adventure told in Joy’s elegant, playful voice that is as ease in English and French as it is in the numerous regional dialects.

Full of observational delight

Songs about bizarre name choices “My name is Happy” and the sexual politics of afro hair Halleluja Hair” are pure poetry in motion full of observational delight, colourful local custom and Joy’s own personal fire. Her velvety speaking voice entertains us with tales of how you should never run to a funeral of the man who stumbled and died (“Don’t Run Run”) and should you ever find yourself in a village where snoring is a crime punishable by death just start singing instead (“I don’t snore”).

Compassionate observation of humanity

Unknown-2Graced with ambidextrous talents, Joy is mistress of many synths and sound machines, often distorting her voice and playing it back as haunting accompaniment or backing vocals. An impressive wall of sound is at times created between herself and partner as in “Doondari”, where dark voice effects and heavy synth rhythms clash with swirling drum beats as menacing as a locust storm. Contrast this with a playful singing voice that combines rare soothing sweetness and reassuring confidence. ‘No Problem Saloon’ exudes compassionate observation of humanity and wraps it up in multi-textured, exhuberant electronic soundscapes.

 

OY are a wonderful live experience, catch them on stage here!

OY: “No Problem Saloon” (Crammed Discs)

 

Record of the month (June): Delaney Davidson “Swim Down Low”

Delaney_Davidson_Swim_Down_LowAlbum_Cover-290x290Roll up, roll up to Delaney Davidson’s old curiosity shop. Make way for big ugly fish, swampy rivers, bloodied stilettoes, fog, dogs, worms and old bones – it ain’t all pretty but it sure is fun. ‘Swim Down Low’ is Davidson’s 5th solo album and heralds the New Zealander’s return to Outside Inside Records. Having lived in Switzerland from 2002 to 2008, he is considered an adopted son of the Swiss folk/blues scene and is highly respected for his previous releases on labels like Voodoo Rhythm.

A magical collection of sepia-tinged vignettes

Captured on fabulous analogue during a week of down time, it’s a magical collection of sepia-tinged vignettes from the supernatural, macabre, dark-side-of-town. The lo-fi country rock genre is amply stretched to encompass flashes of vaudeville cabaret, blues and gothic folk-noir; as a result the album reads like a book of short stories by Edgar Allen Poe meets Tom Waits on a cocktail of whiskey, cigarettes and ketamine.

A slow work of seduction

It’s a work of slow seduction where the 10 perfectly crafted songs permeate their way into your psyche so that you begin to miss them when they’re not on. Take the Big Ugly Fish that ‘Swim Down Low’, one listen to the twangy, foot-stomping guitar riff and you’re hooked on wanting to know what horrors grandpa done did saw at the bottom of the sea.

Balancing the creepy with the beautiful

Let’s remember that Davidson is an old Dead Brothers pro, hence a flair for making the funereal grim and ghastly seem reluctantly joyful and frankly quite hilarious. Dead Brother, Pierre Omer, quotes him as being a “multi-talented musician who played everything from drums and trombone to the lap steel guitar, and even wore a dress on stage”. His poetic songwriting skills exel at balancing the creepy with the beautiful, aided by his penetrating, elastic vocals that can stretch, growl and whine to fit all the desperate nooks and crannies. Many lines are as quoteable as Oscar Wilde, especially the plaintive numbers like ‘It’s all Fun’ (“life is a dog and you are the bone”) and ‘Poor White Trash’ (“I’d rather be lucky than good”).

Thigh-slappingly good

Davidson creates a dramatic persona who enjoys letting the darkness in like a weather-beaten, weary, wandering minstrel. Yet despite the theatrical mask of fatigue and cynicism, it’s a work brimming with pretty melodies, harmonies and incisive wit. The banjoes, slide guitars, harmonicas and fiddles make sure that all toes are tapping in true Roy Orbison fashion not only on to the uptempo numbers such as ‘Farewell’ and ‘Dogs of Love’, but even on the suicidally slow numbers where an alluring rhythmic tension is always maintained. For maximum joy, listen on headphones to catch all the humouristic harmonies, backing vocals and theatrical sound effects. Thigh-slappingly good and un-turn-off-able once the fish bites.

Delaney Davidson,  “Swim Down Low” (Outside Inside Records)

Forthcoming live gigs with Pierre Omer guesting in the band:

15th July: Fribourg (Les Georges Festival)
8th August: St Gall (Graben Halle)
9th August: Vinelz (Bielersee Festival)
10th August: Zürich (El Lokal).

Delaney Davdison is also touring Italy, France and Germany this summer. List of gigs here!

 

 

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