Review, Music |  – A sensational Halden record

Review, Music | – A sensational Halden record

The quartet The Phrenic, which consists of Anoop Chowdhury (vocals/guitar), Mads Golden (drums/vocals), Christian Ebeltoft (guitar) and halden rock veteran Karianne Stenbock (bass, vocals) represents something completely different, something ear-piercing, in the local rock. A sound and a method that has rarely or perhaps never been heard from Halden.

Halden rock is historically associated with the first generation of rock bands that put the city on the map, The Young Lords/Saturday Cowboys, Front Page and The Ghostriders.

Then a second generation that brought rock forward by turning up the fuzz and tightening the garage rock factor, The Basement Brats and Thrond Asker’s The Squareheads in the 1990s.

In the last two decades, it has been varieties of Americana and singer/songwriters that have reached the furthest.

But of course things have simmered and boiled at the Rockehuset and in other more or less Building Control-approved practice rooms.

Bands associated with the Kräftpest label, primarily Göttemia and Lucky Malice, have flown the flag high for punk (with an ø) and general fuck-you attitude.

The Phrenic themselves say that they play gloomy and melancholic fuzzpop. In an interview with the cultural website “Kandusi”, they list bands such as Motorpshyco, Fugazi and Mars Volta as sources of inspiration.

In any case, it is Anoop Chowdhury’s bright singing voice, and highly effective vocal harmonies, which are The Phrenic’s most immediate characteristics and then the references must be trotted further back in rock history, to The Cures’ Robert Smith and the singers in the two Manchester bands Buzzcocks and Magazine, respectively Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto.

Yes, it’s rock geekery to single out forty-year-old English punk and post-punk bands, but it’s a rock critic’s lot in life to do that sort of thing.

Then it should be added that The Cure, Buzzcocks and Magazine have proven to be the English punk wave’s most durable music, The Cure has succeeded in becoming a big arena band.

The Phrenic is supposed to be the result of Anoop and Mads having been on paternity leave and with that, perhaps surprisingly?, having had time to think about making music. Be creative.

Mads Golden has built himself the studio Amber in Berby and has obviously acquired the know-how needed to make The Phrenic sound as if they had spent a month in Athletic Sound or, for that matter, in London’s Morgan studios .

It simply sounds like this variant of energetic, guitar- and vocal-driven rock should sound.

The album contains eight songs, the playing time clocks in at just under half an hour and The Phrenic manages to establish who they are and what they have in mind.

“Myopia”, one of the album’s highlights, simply “myopia”, is lifted by what must be a piano between the fuzz guitars, with magnificent results.

The opener, “Far & wide”, emphasizes the band’s vocal boom, before the comp kicks in and sets the course for half an hour of fine variety and consistent melodiousness. Beneath the guitars there are plenty of cunningly placed musical spices.

“Sidelines” holds, increases the tempo and changes it, is the cut that could most naturally have been placed on Buzzcock’s “Singles going steady”-Best of album. High-energy ending with vocals and guitar effects rising into a, yes, louder unit.

“Right time” finds a heavier and more marked drum groove, everything depends very much on grip, bass and drums are really “in the pocket”.

The title cut, “Zero one”, is also driven forward by Golden’s steady and economical drumming, with cascades of electric guitar and soul-wrenching vocals from Anoop.

“Sandbox” counts contributions from former bassist Laurits Mooseby and Karine Brække on keyboards and backing vocals. The tempo changes keep the tension up.

“Blueprint” slows down the tempo a bit, and ensures that the vocals shine extra. Another one of the album’s highlights.

Closing “Silver lining” is looking for meaning in something that may not have it. “Every cloud has a silver lining” can be translated as “never so bad that it’s not good for anything”.

The Phrenic has got Sjur Lyseid (The Little Hands of Asphalt), a name in the Norwegian indie rock world, to help with production and mixing. Lyseid is a fellow who has a solid understanding of this music and has probably contributed to the fact that this has simply become as vital and energetic as it actually is.

Simply a sensational Halden record.

Then the question becomes whether this can be performed live and not least whether there will be a physical product of “Zero one” that people can get their hands on.

The release concert is scheduled for 5 November at the Aladdin Stage.

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