Release Date: Apr 29, 2014
Record label: Editions Mego
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Electronica, Techno, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Experimental Techno, Experimental Ambient, Ambient Techno, IDM, Experimental Electro, Microsound
Viennese electro-acoustic artist Christian Fennesz managed to set an incredibly high bar for himself with his landmark 2001 album, Endless Summer. Crafted from processed guitar and a colorful palette of glitchy electronics, the album recast the sun-kissed chamber pop introspection of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds in a hazy blanket of digital fuzz and warped laptop reconstructions. In the decade that followed, Fennesz offered up endless collaborations but only two proper solo albums.
Bécs, the sixth album (and first in six years) from Christian Fennesz, has been hyped as the conceptual follow-up to his 2001 landmark release, Endless Summer. Returning to Mego (now Editions Mego), the Austrian record label that released Endless Summer, Bécs finds the Vienna texturalist mining the same pop melodies, decaying electronics and sanguine acoustic guitars that shaped his early work. Bringing in a handful of avant-gardists (including Martin Brandlmayr of Radian and Tony Buck of the Necks), Fennesz gives most of Bécs an inventive, organic/synthetic feel as live drums and mod synth create a backbeat for Fennesz's radiating electro-acoustics.
Whenever I listen to Fennesz, a distinct and powerful image unveils ahead of me. The Austrian experimentalist’s music unveils itself in a slow but sensual fashion like a nearby galaxy when its lights emerge from behind a nebula of gas and dust. The stars are bright enough for us to be able to see them, but the vast clouds radiating from the destruction of other bodies or their own dramatic creation make up a visual noise that is a colourful show in itself.
1. To talk about “texture” at the start of something like this is to start daubing off squares on the Fennesz Review Game of Bingo at a pretty fast clip, but even 13 years on from Endless Summer, Fennesz is without peer when it comes to transforming the “material” possibilities of music (as Adorno would have it) into the sensation of actual material, the physical world. It is tactile without being sensual, a catalogue of touch-memory and sensory experience.
It’s probably difficult to imagine if you weren’t there, but Endless Summer, the 2001 album by Christian Fennesz on the Mego label, seemed like a pretty big deal at the time. I’m not positive it was a big deal because back then it wasn’t so easy to measure these things; you couldn’t add up YouTube plays or look on the Hype Machine or measure Facebook Likes to see how music was getting around. Instead, you pretty much had to rely on the conversations you were having and the reactions you were seeing among those people.
Review Summary: Somber soundscapes and lush melodies: a vivid Fennesz experience.In the past six years, Austrian artist Christian Fennesz has focused mostly on soundtracks, remixes and several collaborations that kept his fans interested in his output yet a solo full length was nowhere in sight. The sample collection, Szampler and the Seven Stars EP kept teasing until the man finally announced the release of his latest work, Bécs. Besides bearing the Hungarian name for Vienna, the record also marked the return to his former record label Mego, through which he released the beautiful classic Endless Summer.While Bécs was indeed created with the aforementioned album in mind, the overall output is slightly different this time.
Six years is a hell of a long time for any musician to stay silent. While it's indeed been as long since Fennesz's last "proper" solo album release under the name (Tapeworm also put out a collagic set of Fennesz archival material in 2010, excellently named Szampler) the man's hardly been silent. First there was his In The Fishtank collaboration with Sparklehorse (the latest release by the band before Mark Linkous' tragic suicide in 2010), followed by the fantastic Knoxville album made in collaboration with Necks drummer Tony Buck and American guitarist Drew Daniell.
Christian Fennesz’s last album for the Editions Mego label (back then simply known as Mego) was 2001’s Endless Summer, an album that both confirmed the label’s reputation as a home for boundary-pushing computer music while challenging the orthodoxy that these things need to be, well, challenging. At its heart, in fact, this was a guitar record, albeit one in which those familiar six strings were subjected to extreme laptop processing: looped and layered, dismembered and pixelated, swamped in reverb and dotted with glitches. Still, though, its gauzy, vaporific melodies and mood of luminous euphoria pointed out to some human touchstones: to My Bloody Valentine, and The Beach Boys.