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Music Reviews

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Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
La Double Absence

Rating: 8.3/10 ?

May 21, 2007
It's not often that one comes across bands from Austria - off the top of my head I can only think of a few Euro-dance acts from the 1980's and early 90's, and those are rarely considered to be creators of high quality music. Experimental duo Thilges is however a different story.

Thilges craft glitchtronica of a very clicky kind; the sounds they use are razor sharp and clean. On their latest release La Double Absence, the ensemble have broadened the horizons first glimpsed on Die offene Gesellschaft in a number of directions. The Austrians employ traditional instruments like guitar, bass and drums to great effect alongside their clicks and cuts, but the most remarkable aspect of La Double Absence is the band's infusion of Middle Eastern influences.

The album is ripe with Arabic and Persian sounds, melodies and voices. Persian vocalist Zohre Jooya appears on a few tracks, and Asim Al-Chalabi, master of the lute-like oud, helped pen the album's compositions. "Mehraban Bash" is a great example of what an excellent little team of collaborators Thilges put together for La Double Absence. The song rests on an electronic base, with Arabic strings floating on top, and Jooya's vocals fluttering in and out throughout the song.

Most of the tracks from La Double Absence are instrumental, and they are rich and melodic enough to stand with the ones with vocals. The fact that Persian is a completely foreign language (in every sense of the word) might contribute to the weight of the instrumental numbers, since the vocals do not contrast so much as they become another instrument (yeah yeah, I know, the vocals are always an instrument, but you get my point), resulting in very lush, beautiful music.

It would do Austria - and the rest of us - a world of good if there were more bands like Thilges out there, willing to break genre boundaries so radically and let an entire album be so thoroughly influenced by the music of a distant culture. Because that is what La Double Absence is, a Middle Eastern exploration, with some electronica mixed in. Not only does Thilges forray outside the norm make for great music, it also pushes the boundaries of what can be done with such disparaging genres and exemplifies how far such sonic adventurism can take a band's sound. I suppose that Thilges have truly earned the label of an experimental band, because they dare trying something new. My hat goes of to them.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg



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