Close Your Eyes and Dissappear
What an interesting way to start your 3rd album. 'Homage' is a post-rock medley of unfinished ideas that make you think you are listening to an edited greatest hits collection. The word 'hits' though, is probably too much of a compliment; think of a Beta Band album compacted into three minutes and you get the idea.
As an introduction, it is not the most focused way to begin but it does serve as a good example of the range of sounds and structures on the record. Throughout Ludwig, Velma glide between Faust style abstract sounds ('Rouge') and Syd Barrett psychedelic vocals ('Minute') only to land in the more obvious contemporary realm of electronica ('Night Club').
It may not be the most punchy of albums to start the New year with but it's not a completely sultry affair. Standout track 'Mange' raises the tempo, with a snappy melody and interesting syncopated beat adding up to a fine homage to Can. Velma also look to other vintage bands for influence; the drenched reverb over the vocals throughout the record force it to sound like a White Noise out-take from the sixties. More contempory references can be heard on tracks like 'Distance', where we are reminded that Tortoise should be back around with another LP quite soon. Also 'Cube' makes me think that Stereolab's Mouse On Mars era could probably be their most influential period to date.
Fans of Tarwater and Simian would feel quite at home with the vibe of this record, with its organic instruments, mixed with digital signals, all topped off with harmonised vocals. For everybody else though, it may be a difficult record to get into, lacking in solid choruses or conventional lyrics to appeal to people beyond the safe havens of Rough Trade shops or John Peel.
For those with a broad ear to music, it's an interesting record that just requires a few listens to hear all the intricate details and moods within. As one of the lines in the track 'Progression' states: "Close you eyes and disappear."
© 2003 Alan Osbourne