Sweeter As The Years Roll By


Heaven And are Tony Buck (drums, percussion); Steve Heather (drums, marimba, percussion); Martin Siewert (guitars, lap steel, electronics, keyboards); Zeitblom (bass, keyboards); Alexander Hacke (vocals). Sweeter As The Years Roll By is their debut full-length release for the Staubgold label and it's a phrase which many will associate with wine. The music of the 21st century has evolved to become the proverbial "old wine in new skins" -- since remixing, cut'n'paste, and other methods of producing new culture by using the old, have become available to almost everyone. Because of the "digital revolution," the layman can now easily become the mixer and magician. The music of Heaven And is inspired by the diverse music styles all conglomerated in our culture -- elements of the diverse musical styles from the last five decades are clearly discernible. Listening to the first track "As If A Star," one can make out a vast range of influences: a psychedelic backwards guitar cuts through the whirr of a cymbal reminiscent of jazz and trance music, while in the second half, a layer of guitar sounds hovers over it all, which reminds one of the sounds emanating from the Fender amps of the bands belonging to the so-called Americana movement. At the same time, the track comes across as an update of those stoic monster tracks of early '70s Krautrock. (And when it comes to minimalism, the bass line beats any of Holger Czukay's in terms of sparseness.) "Bring Back Those Happy Days" with its manic, almost exploding guitar and its rompish, hippie-like percussion orgy, is quite another cup of tea. Art Ensemble Of Chicago meets Keiji Haino? Or Pharoah Sanders meets Sonny Sharrock meets Boredoms? In the course of the album's duration, Heaven And take their listeners on an unsettling roller coaster ride of styles. Sometimes, elements of the blues stick out, while at other times, elements of heavy metal, post-rock, avant garde, free jazz or noise are up front, so that the listener keeps wondering what (in heaven's name) it is s/he's hearing. One clue to this is the list of participants on this project. One look at it makes it clear that this is not music concocted by some part-time musician at his laptop, in which the fissures between the elements are still evident through the electronic glue. In Heaven And, they use musical forms which through their overuse have almost all turned into clichés and fill them with new ideas. These four individuals create their music without making the slightest compromise, sounding only like they themselves could in this constellation -- which renders all attempts at describing their music futile. Their music teems with energy and everything has been played in real time (thus harking back to the production methods of an era in which the computer was not yet the supreme ruler in the studio). Real music, recast.