His musical roots rising straight out of rock, the band's main songwriter Alex Callier has played in several surf bands and a Sonic Youth sound-a-like band. Somehow Callier's good old rock 'n' roll morphed into the sampled and synthed sound (he claims he composes muisc like they should always be taken for a soundtrack actually, and whorships Morricone) that comprises Hooverphonic's debut, A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular.
The album's opener, "Inhaler," starts off with a hypnotic bass line and swirling synthed waves of sound. A guitar comes in riffing off of the existing noise and draws in Liesje Sadonius, whose wistful voice is the only constant on the 11 tracks that comprise A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular. "Hooverphonic singer Liesje Sadonius' voice is a combination of Julee Cruise and Portishead's Beth Gibbons."
Remember Julee Cruise, the haunting voice behind the theme song to "Twin Peaks"? Sadonius' voice is a combination of Cruise and Portishead's Beth Gibbons. Toward the end of the song, a few sampled men's voices announce "a new stereophonic sound spectacular, as I was saying, stereo is full of surprises." However, as with most of the songs on this album, "Inhaler" provides no real surprises, but rather offers up another pleasant, if not fantastic trip- hoppy song to pop into the walkman to keep us mellow on the bus ride to work.
Hooverphonic's first single, "2 Wicky," held the opening spot on the soundtrack to Stealing Beauty. The song snags a guitar sample from Isaac Hayes' "Walk On By" and proceeds to build a blissed-out, funked-out, laze-about tune around it, with lyrics that don't make sense, but fit the wacked out feel of the song. "Prophet 60091-- this is the flight number of our galactic sun. Prophet 60091-- before we start you should know that you're not the only one who can hurt me." Vocal drones fill out the background of "2 Wicky," which is one of the strongest songs on the album.
"Wardrope," the third track, starts off with a peculiar too- loud-in-the-mix ping,but it can still nice to some ears. "Plus Profound" propels itself out of predictability with a propulsive drum beat and some indecipherable fresh vocal raps. "Try not to lose, not to lose control" warns Sadonius in the song. A dreamy flute-synth ushers in the song and leads us out of it.
It's hard to accurately describe the overall sound of A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular as each song has a completely different feel. The fuzzy keyboard crunch of "Barabas" is a complete departure from the ambient drone of "Cinderella." It's as if the band is searching for a sound, but in the meantime seems content to play a little with every electronic toy. While this makes for a somewhat confusing listen, the sound coheres around Sadonius' consistent vocals.
"Nr 9" intros with a messy noise-rock sequence, then eases off into a dreamscape of chorused guitars while Sadonious drawls in a mysterious effervescent voice, "Saw her first a few months ago, spacing in Vienna-- oversea cargo. Saw her in the mirror, she has a stupid name." Obviously it's not the lyrics themselves, but the way in which they are sung, that makes these songs work.
Mildly disturbing masculine grunts kick off the growl rocker, "Sarangi." The closest Hooverphonic get to a straight-ahead rock song, "Sarangi" contains few samples and electronic tricks save some vocal effects and the aforementioned sampled grunts.
"Revolver" begins with a sampled dialogue, " -- Are there any smokies with ears on? -- If you want a smokie good buddy." Guitarist Geerts gets his day in the sun on this tune as his slide riffing carries the weight of the song, only breaking off for the space drum solo.
In this record Hooverphonic menage to create nothing groundbreaking in total but extremely pleasant and interesting.
When they find their space, and can make every song as inspired and compendied as "2 Wicky," then Hooverphonic will solidify into the great band they could be.
Maybe a new singer will be the remedy too?
Rating of the Album:
7,5 on 10
for the potentiality you
can already find in them.