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Phoenix — Renascent Phenomenon (Archives 4: 1970-1971)
(Polumnia PO15, 2003, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2005-09-01

Renascent Phenomenon (Archives 4: 1970-1971) Cover artSupposedly this album of songs was written back in the early 70s for the original version of Dutch group Phoenix, which included Jos Hustings who, along with partner in crime Mathilda Roza, is responsible for this album. Thanks to modern home recording technology, Hustings and Roza are able to realize their musical visions, though I doubt Hustings’ old band ever pictured the songs sounding like this. The pair have divvied up the instrumental duties that include vocals, guitar (mainly acoustic), bass, keys and drums with Hustings solely credited for all of the writing. With all of the instruments credited to them, you’d expect these songs to sound pretty big, though just the opposite is the case. Stylistic reference points would have to be Peter Hammill, especially on “Day after Night” or “In Between.” The arrangements are extremely minimal, a la 70s Eno and often centering on Husting’s distinctive vocal, drums and keys and/or acoustic guitar. The final touch is a synthetic veneer and processing that many of the songs (particularly the heavier or more somber) gets pushed through so that the vocals are strangled, the keys and guitar heavily compressed and most of the other instrumentation a dull roar. I can’t tell if this is intentional or if this is the best that Hustings and Roza can conjure up given their set-up. The Gothic electronica crowd will probably enjoy the prevailing somber atmosphere to the album, and fans of songwriters-with-a-twist like Roy Harper might find this to their liking.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 32, 2003 releases

Related artist(s): Phoenix

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