Monday 31 December 2012

Black Flowers Cafe - Black Flowers Cafe

Album review by

This eponymous album is the first full-length by Italians Black Flowers Cafe and follows a handful of EPs released over the past couple of years. Theirs is a difficult sound to pin down as they not averse to chopping and changing things here and there, although broadly speaking they fit somewhere into the alternative-rock bracket. You know to expect something a little cosmic from their debut, as opening track 'Baikonur' contains samples of astronauts talking to ground control during the famously aborted Apollo 13 moon mission. The instrumental backing isn't far off those early Pink Floyd albums, before they themselves went to the 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and left their psychedelic past behind.

Black Flowers Cafe leap forward in time on next track 'Ophir Chasma' which also show a jump in tempo and could prick up the ears of a few Stereolab fans out there. They're also no mugs when it comes to more conventional alt-rock, as they prove on 'Dubhe/Merak' and the excellent closer 'Vega'. A highlight comes in 'Mintaka', a song that takes retro organ sounds and mixes in post-punk as well as more recent indie sounds. It's a musical mongrel but it works. Guitars and organ aren't the only vintage sounds we hear; 'Altair/Denab' has a similar feel to 70s electronic pioneers; there's a tribal, dreampop slant to the atmospheric 'Thuban', and 'Alnitak' is a soup of familiar references.

This is an album loaded with voice samples, some of them quite bizarre, which add an extra air of psychedelia to certain songs; hearing strange voices can have an odd and surreal effect on the brain. This is most prominent when they revert back to Syd Barrett-like sonic experimenting on the creepy 'Alnilam'. What's refreshing about 'Black Flowers Cafe' is that they never labour the point. Some songs seem to end suddenly where other bands would have continued things further, and this helps keep the interest level high. There's nothing here that will blow your socks of but this is a competent, interesting and inventive album nonetheless.

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