Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Young Gods - "Knock On Wood - The Acoustic Sessions" CD

Swiss electronic-rock act the Young Gods are destined to confound and royally piss off many of their 'fans' with this release. Initially tarred with the 'industrial metal' brush back in the late 80's, vocalist Franz Treichler and keyboardist/programmer Al Comet have since dabbled in ambient techno and richly-orchestrated Chanson (their album of Kurt Weill covers was an early move that paid off handsomely in differentiating them from their more meatheaded peers).
Here, in a completely unexpected and unprecedented move, 'Knock On Wood' sees the group recreating some of their early classics with purely acoustic guitar, drums, sitars, kalimba, woodblocks, etc. These are completely reinvented songs, and amazingly, it works quite nicely. 'Our House' opens with a lovely tapestry of nylon and metal string guitars - sonically flowing and natural. In it's earlier form, this song was a locomotive of tension and aggression. Here, it's sedate, calm, and relaxing. And a music-box style melody is revealed. Impressive! 'Gasoline Man' is country-tinged, rollicking, and rocking - an American road tale as if visualized by Wim Wenders, perhaps. The (originally) explosive guitar shrapnel of songs like 'Longue Route' or 'Skinflowers' are rendered almost folky, yet still bold and melodic.
The extended cover of Suicide's legendary 'Ghost Rider' is lengthy and droning, but somehow maintains the hypnotic vibe of the original, though it lacks the unhinged manic quality of Rev & Vega's original.

Having been a fan of these guys for a long time ('Envoye' was a revelation of sorts in it's day), and knowing that Franz, Al, and company always sought to inject a real organic feel to their machine-driven music, I approached this with curiosity, and was rewarded with their finest work in years. They write songs with soul, and in that context, this project is a success. Just where they will go from here should be an exciting trip, and I look forward to being along for that journey. (PIAS Europe)

Young Gods site

A recent live acoustic video for 'Skinflowers', as featured on this album:

The 'Lucidogen' promo video from 2000:

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