Platte des Monats: Fai Baba «The Savage Dreamer»

FAIBABA_TheSavageDreamer_Cover_2500px_PromoEtwas unerwartet kam die Ankündigung seines aktuellen Albums, denn der Vorgänger «She‘s My Guru» erschien unlängst im Frühling 2013. Ein kurzer Blick auf die Statistik zeigt aber, dass Fabian Sigmund, besser bekannt als Fai Baba, noch nie lange Schaffenspausen eingelegt hat. Sein viertes Album seit 2010 nennt sich «The Savage Dreamer» und ist – ein weiteres Mal – grandios.

50 Minuten Genialität

Abgeklärter und erwachsener kommt das neue Album daher, ohne dass dabei die Leidenschaft und Rohheit abgetötet werden, welche Fai Babas Musik neben seiner charakteristischen Stimme kennzeichnen. Wer all die Feinheiten der Songs erfassen möchte, dem sei empfohlen, sich in ein ruhiges Eckchen zu begeben und sich während knapp fünfzig Minuten ganz der Welt von «The Savage Dreamer» hinzugeben. Auch nach dem zehnten Hördurchgang entdeckt man noch Tonspielereien, die einem vorher nicht aufgefallen sind – was für kleine Glücksmomente sorgt, als hätte man in einem Wimmelbild Walter entdeckt.

 

 

Aus der Ferne heulende Gitarren und warnende Orgel- und Basstöne werden beispielsweise bei «Not That Simple» zu einer akustischen Leckerei aufgeschichtet. Auf dem achteinhalb-minütigen «New York City» verkündet Fai Baba eindringlich, dass er nicht nochmals in die Weltmetropole reisen möchte, weil er sich dort einsam fühlte. Der eindrucksvolle Instrumentalteil, der den Grossteil des Songs ausmacht, könnte meinetwegen ewig weitergehen. Ein weiteres Highlight auf dem Album ist der Opener «The Savage Dream»: Fragil und untermalt mit Piano-, Flöten- und Geigenklängen bietet der Song einen wundervollen Kontrast zu den reissenderen Stücken.

Schöner warten

Blues, Folk und Psychedelic Rock verschachtelt Fai Baba gekonnt zu einem faszinierenden Werk, das es sich ausgiebig zu erforschen lohnt. Dem Tatendrang der letzten Jahre nach zu urteilen, schreibt Fai Baba womöglich bereits fleissig neue Songs für das nächste Album. Bis dahin beschert uns «The Savage Dreamer» die wohl schönste Wartezeit auf Erden.

«The Savage Dreamer» ist am 19. September 2014 erschienen (A Tree In A Field Records).

Die nächsten Konzerte:
14.11.2014, Alte Kaserne, Zürich
06.12.2014, L’Écurie, Genève
20.12.2014, Eisenwerk, Frauenfeld

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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!

 

 

Record of the month: Tobias Preisig, ‘Drifting’

Tobias Preisig's 'Drifting'

I’ve got Drifting on constant rewind. It’s a spacious album, pulling back to allow an experience of resonance and a sort of quiet mayhem. The musicians don’t hate us: they want to captivate, however, we’re not their only object of desire. There’s a care and deep listening in their interplay that is almost audible. It’s as if they are feeling their way into a new form of being, as a quartet.

Abstract, even animalistic

Tobias Preisig spoke to me of his band working as an ‘integrated instrument’ with ‘spots’ replacing full-blown solos, such as when André Pousaz’s double bass breaks out into a sombre spotlight in Floating Causes amongst low violin stabs and hi-hat shimmers. It’s true that tracks like Out of Reach weave a subtle tapestry of instruments, intensifying in colour as it progresses. But there is no ignoring the quality of Tobias’ violin: rich, assured, respectful of its emotional power yet avoiding sentimentality. It can be abstract, even animalistic, revelling in a purity of sound.

Miniature for Gold is a painfully-gentle vignette painted by Stefan Aeby‘s piano. Preisig’s violin balances the sweetness, plucking as if a tight bass line. The track is like an exquisite kiss. But Searching for Soil is my highlight, a spellbinding piece.

Michi Stulz’s drum rolls… an unrelenting mantra

The opening Rhodes’ chord conjures a translucent pathway out to the Milky Way, there’s the metallic jingle of a cold star, before Michi Stulz’s drum rolls march us on; an unrelenting mantra. It’s the woozy high violin plucks and quivering strokes of the strings that send my goosebumps bumping. It’s a trip, to somewhere magical or possibly, macabre. Piercing violin runs twist the screws tighter whilst a stormy piano bashes at its low notes. A scrap of melody breaks through as if to keep us entwined in the music, before it shudders to a close.

This music has character: it can be moody, sensitive, frustrated yet is often playful – it’s got soul. What I hope to hear from the band in the future is a wider range of textures and themes; an evolution of their emerging and ear-catching language. Look out for this quartet playing live and let me know what you think.

 

05.04.2014 CH-Zurich, Moods
12.04.2014 DE-Erfurt, Jazzclub
13.04.2014 DE-Dresden, Tonne
15.04.2014 DE-Jena, Cafe Wagner
16.04.2014 DE-Berlin, A-Trane
25.04.2014 CH-Basel, Jazzfestival Offbeat
16.05.2014 CH-Arbon, Kultur Cinema
02.06.2014 CH-Orsière, Fête de la musique
20.07.2014 CH-Gstaad, Menuhin Festival
14.08.2014 CH-Winterthur, Musikfestwochen

 

 

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