June 23, 2008

Cafeneon - S/T

Artist - Cafeneon
Title - S/T
Hometown - Belgium
Label - Station 55
Street Date - Out now
RIYL - Post-punk, Blonde Redhead, stuff in French, Peter Hook bass lines, nu-dub, beginner's shoegaze, lyrics extracted from Serge Gainsbourg material, Sonic Youth in training
The Hits - Yssandon, Snoopy, Orange
Richter Magnitude Scale - Moderate

Christian Vogel is a busy man. He is known for releasing experimental electronic music, being one half of Super_Collider with Jamie Lidell, singing / playing guitar in a new band called Night of the Brain, mixing a diverse group of artists such as Radiohead and Maximo Park, participating in sound installations, being involved in four different record labels, acting as main producer at the studio Station 55 in Barcelona... and now he has a new thing to add to resume: producing, mixing, and releasing the debut record for Cafeneon, a Belgium group .

On a surface level you have a a lot going for this band. They have Vogel as a loyalist and a bevy of sexy boy/girl vocals getting it on with a wall of noise broken down into post punk shards. As the record plays out more and more layers of the band are exposed and first enters bass driven electronic pop-dub. It is at this point that I recommend you put on your seat belt.
I initially considered the songs to be filled with exciting mercurial temperament but early on I changed my mind. This isn't whimsy at work; the songs are scattered and directionless. Half way through the record I began to wonder if perhaps my iTunes had gone into shuffle mode and hijacked my shoegaze folder but by the next track I was lost again. Is that a Joy Division riff? Did Blonde Redhead merge with the Shout Out Louds and record in Kingston, Jamaica? By the final track you are off again but this time to a helicopter based beat with Serge Gainsbourg's ghost in the drivers seat as a laser battle ensues in the distance.
It makes me car sick just thinking about all of Cafeneon's musical lane changes.

You can hear some great potential with this band (the music review equivalent of "I love you but I am not IN LOVE with you") and while some groups can't seem to surpass the energy and quality of their debut release, I think Cafeneon will find their way in a record or two. For now they are falling into the traps of a green band, hiding behind lots of pedals and their influences rather than carving out their own sound in the process. You can't disguise a band still feeling their way around... but I have faith, I really do. We just need to give them a little more time.

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