Suddenly There Was Peace & All That Terrible Noise
Axel Wolph 'Suddenly There Was Peace And All That Terrible Noise Was Gone With The Wind, My Hands Lying Still On Top Of My FEELTANk' Psychedelia of Pain The artist as a torn object: wrangling with the outer world; wrestling with inner demons and depression. He grabs the guitar and out pours the fear and frustration carried on the strains of his voice - for days, nights, weeks, months. The whole thing recorded somewhere in a sound studio in a cellar in Vienna's seventh district - too many modern clichés and too little post-modern superficiality? Who the f*** cares as long as the results sound like Axel Wolph's long player "...FEELTANK", where the multi-instrumentalist acts as an interpreter for the most inner of emotions, moods and states of mind, which have haunted and preoccupied him over the last few years. Following "Wedding Songs" and "The Weekend Starts On Wednesday", Wolph has concentrated the aesthetic of genteel West Coast Pop while slipping in the occasional outburst of noisy rock. The strummed guitar of the "Johnny And Mary" performer as well as "Poet With A Punk's Heart" has not wavered, but the central pieces of "...FEELTANK" seem as if one has tuned Neil Young down an octave and locked him in a room with Radiohead, Arcade Fire and Pink Floyd, and didn't let him out again until 14 pieces of coal had been polished into song-diamonds. Which means: the self-produced and mixed tracks have been adorned with a massive portion of psychedelia. Wolph dissolves the classical song structure and let's the guitars mutate into singing voices, meandering leitmotifs and warm sounds that encircle the listener - the experimental "Out Of My Head", the salvation seeking "The Revelation" and the majestic, epic "Morning Call". However, the songwriter - who travels between Vienna and California regularly - presents himself at the same time as traditional on "...FEELTANK". His fondness of catchy melodies, 70s vintage drums, cello phrases, mellotron-planes and jazz bass are reflected in "Gravity" (which is not only melancholic, but also has real hit-potential), the pop number "No One In This World" or the solemn "Thorn In My Eyes". Successively, the tension builds between lovingly arranged harmonies and subliminally bubbling static that seems to be creeping into the tracks on "...FEELTANK" from somewhere off the edge. The banishment and expulsion of this white noise is the main theme of "...FEELTANK": the raucous noise from one's own head displaced into music, where it is turned into an aesthetic product. Travel guide intuition Even if it isn't a concept album, the bottom line of "...FEELTANK" is an album which has become a concept. Descartes's "I think, therefore, I am" and various other "think tanks" are challenged by Wolph's "Feeltank". "I tried to let the outside world onto my studio doorstep;" says the songwriter, "tried to let my thoughts be and set my intuition free, and this set me out on a journey. Maybe that is the revelation of this album: we are all travelers whose domicile is death, and the way we experience this journey is solely in our own hands." Especially now in the face of metaphysical homelessness, "...FEELTANK" turns out to pay homage to love. "All I've got is more than a piece of gold / All I've got is you" sings Wolph, "I wrote seven letters for a four letter word / And it's not hate", he sums up in "Seven Letters". Through all the doubts, someone is trying to articulate what one is not allowed to say anymore - according to Umberto Eco - because it has already been said so often and in better ways. Instead of finding ways to paraphrase "I love you" and quoting poets, one could simply play this record. Pack up your think tanks: it's time to breathe! © Christoph Weinberger 2010.