Friday 10 April 2020
Feline & Strange - Trigger Warning (Album Review)
Feline & Strange - Trigger Warning
03.tw: Radio Apocalypse
05.I Am An Iceberg
06.tw: A Secret
07.Castle In The Woods
08.tw: We´re Fucked
09.Restart From Zero
10.tw: Happy Little Island Dance
12.tw: The Last Show On Earth
14.tw: Monster In The Dark
16.tw: A Tea Party
18.tw: One Of Us
19.Not A Man
20.tw: The Neighbours
Feline Lang (Vocals/Piano/Synths/Ukulele)
Christoph Klemke (Cello/Percussion)
Rah Hel (Drums)
Taylor KouqJ Bull (Bass/Upright/Hammer on stone)
Matt Miller (Tuba)
Mishkin Fitzgerald (Accordion)
Matthew Victor "Ghastly" Rogers (Additional Ukulele)
Sam Lee (Announcements)
Sam Lee, Julie Zakar, Cameron Ellis Lamberson, Taylor KouqJ Bull, Christoph Klemke, Rah Hell (Additional Vocals)
It is clear from the albums cover, seemingly more suited to Sunn 0))) or Ulver, that they are taking a trip to the darker side, 'Trigger Warning' is Feline & Strange’s most political album so far.
At times heart-wrenching, furious and tragic. Sometimes sarcastically silly, feminist and humanist.
It is depressing and disturbing, Just as the world is these days.
The message is both simple yet complex:
“You are not alone with all these emotions. We are here, and we hear you. We see you and we lend you our voices.”
The songs show no mercy to any human abyss. Feline is addressing war, despair, abuse, rape, hate, discrimination, depression, madness and suicide, as directly as ever.
The work is also deeply connected to Taylor´s coming out as a trans woman. After a nearly lethal fight against society, expectations, and work related prejudice, she opened up to Feline as literally the first person on the world besides her partner, less than two months before pre-production in Berlin was scheduled. She kept saying: “I must remember this album is not about me.” And Feline kept responding: “It is. It´s about everyone.”
This work is the culmination of 18 months writing and recording and may be their most ambitious and inspiring output to date.
We begin with 'Ouverture', a couple of minutes of pure musical madness, mournful cello and piano join with frantic drumming and disturbing vocal effects, quickly this moves to the avant jazz/electronic sounds reminiscent of Delia Derbyshires 1969 masterpiece An Electric Storm In Hell.
Moving to a more modern electronic sound 'Inappropriate' has a wonderful near sarcastic vocal style, this takes us to the first of a number of spoken links, 'Radio Apocalypse'.
'Pretty Please' is that unusual mixture of dark cabaret and punk of which the band excel in, has a very catchy piano riff running throughout.
Heavy as hell 'I Am An Iceberg' mixes angry vocals with a solid drum rhythm, weird musical notes bring the avant garde element, yet somehow this could almost be anthemic, you just know that live everybody will be chanting "I am an Iceberg you only see part of me, when i melt down i will take you down with me".
Clever horror film ambience with 'A Secret' leads us to the beautiful piano opening to 'Castle In The Woods' a downbeat folkish ballad that gets more theatrical as it progresses.
Haha 'We´re Fucked' is one twisted little ditty end with distortion that flows into the classic awesome synth pulses of 'Restart From Zero', it moves darkly, almost menacing then explodes into "Faust" like experimental jazz rock.
'Happy Little Island Dance' acts as the introduction to 'Another Dream' which sounds like an 80's style electro pop song, really upbeat and yet slightly unsettling.
'The Last Show On Earth' is followed by 'Lobotomy' a happy little tune with an early 60's cheesy Rock N Roll vibe, could have been on the Rocky Horror soundtrack!
Getting freaky again with the f/x for 'Monster In The Dark' which appropriately you find during the 'Night'. Brooding, operatic and Gothic, this has all the quality of a symphonic rock classic, beautiful cello playing, perfect arrangements, perfect song!
You get the feeling that something not good is happening with 'A Tea Party', maybe one of the other links will give a happy ending?
Loving the harpsichord on 'Medusa', another dark ambient piece with more outstanding vocals and cello once more the song ends with a little experimental madness.
'One Of Us' has a nasty streak in it, placing a mirror in front of prejudice and ignorance.
Very clever lyrics on 'Not A Man', smashing stereotypes left, right and centre with humour and aggression.
The piano riff from 'Pretty Please' returns briefly for 'The Neighbours'.
I get the feeling that this is a very serious song about sexual abuse, yet whilst listening to 'Please Die' I can't help but smile, I suppose it's just the way Feline shouts all the ways she wants the person to die, but then maybe I should smile at the demise of an abuser!
Electronic treatments, disturbing cello and spoken word, seems 'Help' does not give these little links a happy ending after-all.
Another heavy and dark musical mixture, blending strange drum rhythms and timing changes with electronic pulses, 'Can`t Breathe' creates an unnerving aural nightmare, Feline screaming "I can't breathe' as if she were suffocating for real.
'Apocalypse' and 'Vanity Fair' bring this album to a close, another exemplary mixture of styles, musical ability and strong vocal performance.
The band have matured, never standing still they continue to push their own unique sounds forward. They care about their music and their fans, not content with making great music they also care about how it is made available, not just the "download" option which is the rather boring standard for many musicians these days, this album comes in a variety of well packaged and thought out formats, details of which can be found by following the link below to their Bandcamp page.
For Fans Of: Nina Hagen, Faust, Tomorrows Gift, Dresden Dolls, Nico & John Cale
Feline & Strange Bandcamp
Feline & Strange Facebook