Following their highly acclaimed debut album The Mustache Mozart Affaire a year ago, Austrian band Steaming Satellites unveil its successor Slipstream, a release which one suspects with easily match the strength of response certainly amongst their fans. Eleven indie/alternative rock/electronic tracks which at times seem deceptively simple but are crafted with precise thought and imagination, the album easily shows why the Salzburg quartet is earning such eager reactions even if it does miss out on provoking a continual potent wash of ardour for its offerings.
Reliably informed that the band began around 2005, they began seducing their local and homeland crowds soon after before venturing farther afield with a US tour with Hello Electric in 2009 followed by another with Portuguese band The Man the next year. 2012 saw not only the release of their first full-length but more tours across Scandinavia and Spain with Two Gallants whilst strong festival appearances including the Eurosonic Festival in Groningen brought this year to life. The foursome of vocalist/guitarist Max Borchardt, bassist Manfred Mader, keyboardist/bassist Emanuel Krimplstätter, and drummer/programmer/keyboardist Matthäus Weber have built on their previous release with Slipstream, bringing an arguably grittier and more caustic breath to its presence though melodies and electronic elegance are still given full rein.
Released via The Instrument Village, the album opens with its title track, a cosmic heralding instrumental with sinister suggestiveness and dawning melodic grandeur. Seemingly seeded in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is a decent enough beckon which leads into Another Love, the song instantly grabbing attention with its Sicilian keys temptation. Soon joined by the distinctive tones of Borchardt the lure only gets stronger especially when the brewing drum and bass persuasion grips tightly to ignite a wash of passion. There is a soulful fire to the vocals which again is focus pulling whilst once into its stride the song saunters along with evocative colour and melodic enterprise.
The next up Notice raises things another level, keys again opening up the path for the fine vocals and melodic sun of the song to stroll along. A rich bluesy lilt to the guitars has thoughts alert whilst the now bold swagger of the track and its harmony led festive energy has ears dancing to their soulful tune. A foot and emotion puppeteer of a track, there is a certain Black Keys feel to the song which seems at odds with the suggested comparisons to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Bob Dylan which accompanied the release, though you can at times understand that idea. The following Another Try also brings a different thought, this time of the Alex Turner led band as it evokes a reflective and provocative narrative within the imagination. The synths sculpt an inciting ambience whilst the drums vein it with an honesty which alongside the excellent gnarly snarling bass lines ensnares a real hunger for their presence.
The intriguing ballad So I Fell Down brings again that Arctic Monkeys feel especially vocally, with Procol Harum like keys reaping the seeds of the seventies to mesmerise mind and emotions. Like the album as a whole, the song takes time to make its persuasion, taking numerous plays before it fully declares its riches it is the epitome of a slow burner forging a long term recruit for its glory.
Both Timezone and No Sleep for the Damned engage easily with the ear without quite matching what came before, though the blues drenched croon of the second of the two skirted by a great rhythmic taunt holds more than enough to pull one back into its depths time and again. The next up Rudder ebbs and flows within the passions, its evocative electro weaves and vocal harmonies making a magnetic breeze across feisty rhythmic waves of temptation which traps the listener in its creative snare. It like many does not light any raging fires inside but smoulders in thoughts and memory potently enough to make another strong impression, something you can lay at the door of Slipstream as a whole.
Shadows Collide is another more than decent ballad where again Weber steals most attention, which is then left firmly in the shade by the best song on the album, Anyone. There is a mischievous look on its tempting face from the start; keys, guitars, and rhythms courting the emotions like a pack of festival hounds before stretching their arms to welcome a delicious flaming shower of brass. The song takes no time in securing total ardour but then raises the game again with a step midway into mellower sway of invention and energy speared by hot coals of sonic invention and melodic fire.
Concluded by Gone and its melancholic poise, Slipstream is a very enjoyable and appetising album which as mentioned makes it clear as to why the band has come under such positive declarations, though it does not exactly spark a rapturous passion inside. Steaming Satellites does bring plenty of appetising and easy to indulge in sounds and imagination though and undoubtedly will leave their fans new and old blissfully content.
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