Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pepe Deluxé - Queen of the Wave (2012)

1. Queenswave 4:54
2. A Night And A Day 4:04
3. Go Supersonic 4:44
4. Temple of the Unfed Fire 2:48
5. Contain Thyself 3:52
6. Hesperus Garden 4:08
7. Grave Prophecy 4:33
8. In The Cave 1:51
9. My Flaming Thirst 3:48
10. Iron Giant 2:22
11. The Storm 3:43
12. Riders Of the First Ark 7:22

I have probably a lot more to say about this record, than I have time at the moment to (how many times have I said that? countless :p), but I guess I'm going to just do the ole as brief/quick review as possible and if necessary, edit in more later.

I am really digging this album. I discovered it and this group 1 day a few weeks ago scanning the 2012 Chart, and this was #1 at the time. That and given the style being "Art Pop" and "Psychedelic Rock" I was at least curious what they may sound like.

So, now after listening to this new album of theirs, at least half a dozen times, I'm following why it was and still is rated/ranked so high. It's a rather impressive and cohesive album start-to-finish.

Specifically, I'd say the styles or comparison that come to mind are the *vintage* late 60's/early 70's tones. With instrumentation, production in some ways, and especially songwriting. This album is one of those records that I seem to romanticize about from that period. It sounds like it was made in 1967. Hammond organs, rhodes keyboards, harpsichord, flute, fuzz-guitar, tribal drums, horn, and the like.

Also a very big part of this album's style is the cinematic/soundtrack like element. Ennio Morricone is very likely a big influence on this band. Also I read one comparison to James Bond soundtracks, which I definitely can hear. But also specific artists, like Janelle Monáe come to mind. The orchestral parts that are very theatrical, namely the vocals.

edit: one other pretty obvious side to their sound is their Dick Dale Surf-Rock/Surf-Guitar. The arrangements/phrasings totally work on a bunch of these tunes. The riff on "The Storm" for example, sounds right out of the Dick Dale school.

The videos below seem pretty obvious, they are going for a cinematic or soundtrack-esque approach when they composed this record. It definitely tells a story (or stories?). Science Fiction perhaps, but also what reminds me of stories about Ancient or just biblical tales.

Other names to add might be the likes of Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, and Carlos Santana and even perhaps The Who and Cream, specifically the lead basslines I have thought of John Entwhistle or Jack Bruce even on more than one occasion.

This record has balls, and upfront riffs. It's catchy, namely the track "Go Supersonic" which could easily fit on a James Bond soundtrack. It has a fair amount of groove and soul to it, perhaps coming from the female vocals especially. It's also a rather *thematic* album as some of those tales or adventures the band is offering up, seem to take me in. The 7+minute closing track "Riders of the First Ark" maybe most, as it's epic and rather *big* sounding. Even just the baritone? vocals about the Big Blue Ocean and a voyage "out of the blue" give a deep impression.

I would say this now has become my top record of 2012. It's not extensively long, but it offers a lot. It is consistent from track to track, including little interludes between some tracks. The layers, twists, energy, themes and many other parts of it have sucked me in. Will it end up on top by the end of the year? doubtful, but as of right now I haven't heard anything better or more interesting, and addictive in fact.

Adding to it, they have a decent history, going back to the mid 1990's, and having checked out their previous 2 records Beatitude and Space Time Machine, I would definitely say this is a breakthrough album of sorts, but it also seems they have transitioned their style, as less than 10 years ago, they were doing more electronic, trip-hoppy drum'n bass kind of stuff. Maybe a reinvention of their sound, that at this point I'm really happy to have heard. Although I'll confess those other records I've heard aren't bad, and I need to spend some more time with them. It's just they may have finally found a style that works for my taste with this latest of theirs.

I also am rather curious how they produced these videos. I gotta believe the cost was not cheap. But impressive no matter. I wonder if seeing them live might be as impressive, although they are kind of spread throughout the globe, with some members in Finland, but others in other parts like the US.