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Music Reviews

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Von Sudenfed
Tromatic Reflexxions

Rating: 9/10 ?

June 8, 2007
To put it succinctly, ever since Von Sudenfed's Tromatic Reflexxions arrived in the mail, I have been in heaven. Rarely do you find an album this good, with so much lust for experimentation, by a band whose members - Jan St. Werner, Andi Toma, and Mark E. Smith - are a match made in heaven. St. Werner and Toma are better known as Mouse on Mars, the German electronic duo who have been pushing the boundaries of their genre for years, and Smith is the man who, together with his day job band The Fall, has release about 65,000 records over their 31 years as a band.

Fans of St. Werner and Toma's past efforts will feel quite at home with Von Sudenfed, although it should be mentioned that the beats are a tad bit harder and rougher than your average Mouse on Mars release. The acoustic influences heard on albums like the excellent Niun Niggung are gone, resulting in an album that in many ways feels more put together and focused than many of the pair's releases as Mouse on Mars.

Although it was composed by a trio with an inherently powerful pedigree, Tromatic Reflexxions is an album that can stand on its own two legs, not having to lean on either Mouse on Mars or Mark E Smith. The album's independence, while welcome, is nonetheless a little surprising considering the clarity of the members' influence upon its sound. This in turn is a true sign that competent artists are behind it. Smith's vocals, attitude, and at times almost drunken slurs are all very reminiscent of The Fall, in fact "Hit the North", one of that band's best tracks, would fit in perfect with the songs on Tromatic Reflexxions, had it been updated with a 2007 digital upgrade. This is why Von Sudenfed is a match made in heaven; the best qualities have been taken from MoM and Mark E Smith to form this band, and I'm certain it didn't happen by accident. It's so apparent where the sound and influences come from, and yet it sounds so unique.

Another fact that needs to be mentioned concerning Von Sudenfed's debut is how incredibly modern it sounds. The trio has put a huge effort into the project, and where so many other projects fail, Von Sudenfed excels, namely in managing to fuse the music so well with the vocals. Very often when an electronic artist decides to work with a vocalist, especially one who is not truly integrated into the creative core of the band, the vocals sound patched on. With Tromatic Reflexxions the members of Von Sudenfed have found a way around those hurdles, smoothing over any exposed edges and creating something truly harmonious.

There are so many good songs on Tromatic Reflexxions that it is a compact hit machine, and each listener will undoubtedly find their own favorites. My own top three list consists of "Speech Contamination/German Fear of Osterreich," "Fledermaus Can't Get Enough," and "Family Feud." All three tracks make the best possible use of Smith's vocal abilities, and they're filled to the brim with St. Werner and Toma's innovative beats and experimental use of sounds.

Whether you're a Mouse on Mars fan, a devotee of The Fall, both, or neither, you'll feel right at home with Von Sudenfed. There's something captivating about the project, and you will find yourself returning to the album over and over again. Heck, it might even make you dust of your old The Fall records, just to rediscover them again, or you might want to check out Mouse on Mars, if you're not already a fan. Whatever you chose to do, you owe it to yourself to give Tromatic Reflexxions a listen, as you will not regret doing so.

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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