Pepe Deluxe
Queen of the Wave


4.5
superb

Review

by Jonny Hunter CONTRIBUTOR (103 Reviews)
February 19th, 2012 | 71 replies | 8,349 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An unforgettable, extravagant trip through the inner workings of a surreal world.

“A Dweller on Two Planets” and its sequel, “An Earth Dweller’s Return”, were released to bewildered readers in the early 20th century and soon gathered a rather niche cult following, mostly due to the surreal nature of both books and the bizarre instances surrounding their creation. Work started on the first book when a child genius’ hand was possessed by a dark power, forcing him to write continuously until the feeling slowly ebbed away (a convincing story, I know). These initial demonic scribblings soon evolved into a tale of futuristic technology, black magic, heroes and villains: all set, for the most part, in the mystical, aquatic city of Atlantis. On discovering these books, Pepe Deluxe took the only logical step in deciding that they were perfect material for a pop-opera concept album. The result is “Queen of the Wave”, the most ambitious and aggressively bizarre album we’re likely to see this decade. Confining itself to only the key points in the story, instead choosing to focus on indulging in the sheer madness of the source material, “Queen of the Wave” demonstrates Pepe Delux at their best: splicing an alarming multitude of genres while keeping a renowned sense of charm and narrative.

The result is a spectacle with all the glitz and the glamour of a high-end Broadway show. Like an expensive lap-dancer, “Queen of the Wave” is careful to keep you at arms distance while it seduces you, likewise it knows that it’s the lack of personal connection that fuels this illustrious factor of mystery. It presents itself as impenetrable; a never ending barrage of various sound, some of which have never been heard before. This isn’t a surprise, in retrospect, as in the 5 years proceeding their last album the two men behind Pepe Deluxe have certainly kept themselves busy. Visits to the famous Stalagpipe Organ, a 500,000 volt Tesla coil synthesiser and Edison’s ghost machine have not gone without their merits. The Stalacpipe Organ (the largest instrument in the world, think of a regular organ and then imagine that, in place of pipes, it uses stalactites), especially, shows its value in In The Cave, a vast, haunting piece that stands away from the bulk of the album by being so humble. Elsewhere, “Queen of the Wave” cannot be expected to show restraint. Echoing the style of its subject matter, it assaults the listener with colourful, neon splashes of pure self-indulgence. Rich beds of sublime wind instruments battle with jazz bands and blues guitar and keyboards and synthesisers and etc. and etc... no genre or style is left untouched as you’re swamped by the album’s never ending influences. The result is something very baroque, but at the same time eerily cheerful. The inclusion of two very talented vocalists, both of whom echo the finer moments of mid-20th century jazz, completes a package that is, in every respect, larger than life.

Nothing displays Pepe Deluxe’s predisposed attitude towards excess quite like The Storm, a piece sounding like it’s been ripped straight out of a 60’s thriller b-movie. Ominous choirs scream out cult-like chants, only to give way to rolling percussion, blaring brass and car-chase guitar solos. It’s incredibly dramatic and recklessly progressive as it barrels towards the sea-side carnival, farewell jaunt that is Riders on the First Ark. At the same time, it still manages to instill a certain sense of suspense in the style of an old spy movie when the song briefly breaks down to light percussion and plucked cellos. It’s a marvel that an album appearing to have so much fun can be as deep and nuanced as “Queen of the Wave”. Pepe Deluxe’s attitude that “more is more”, with their songs presenting layers and layers to be unravelled, would be destined for disaster if the album wasn’t so carefully constructed, and it’s a testament to their skill that the album doesn’t collapse under the weight of all their ambition. A criticism could possibly be made by declaring that the story of the books is almost smothered by the extravagance of the music surrounding it, but the story is there, if you look for it, and the slow realisation of the narrative makes the album all the more interesting when it finally - kind of - makes sense.

In the end “Queen of the Wave” is unlike anything that’s come in a long enough time for it to be significant. Where most artists seek to acquire an intimate subtlety with their work, Pepe Deluxe charge in the opposite direction with an unashamedly bonkers romp through retro beats and surreal landscapes. Completely impossible to relate to, but better for it, “Queen of the Wave” still manages to drip with charm. Rarely has an album been so lovingly produced, and so exciting to listen to. The duo have set out to impress and have only exceeded expectations in creating something truly unforgettable.



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other reviews of this album
Nick Butler EMERITUS (4)
An ambitious rock opera that remembers to be fun....

Sam Feldman (3)
This is truly mind-blowing stuff....


Comments:Add a Comment 
StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
February 19th 2012



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also posted at: http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

I don't always use similes, but when I do they involve strippers. But seriously guys, get the fuck on this album.

Now who do I have to suck off to get this on the frontpage.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
February 19th 2012



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

grrr *shakes cane*

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 19th 2012



7313 Comments


I very much doubt that this'll be my thing but I'll give it a go nonetheless. It seems like you're delivering in your "weird shit" role haha.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2012



7310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Wonderful album. It ventures into so many genres so seamlessly and the bizarre concept is nothing short of awesome. I'm still procesing it. After I finish, I may bump up my rating. The Storm and Riders on the first Ark are especially amazing. They give me strong King Crimson vibe. I also can't shake the pop tendencies of the first part of the disc.

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings

chambered69
February 19th 2012



1253 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ive been waiting for this review, this album is blowing my fucking mind good review man

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
February 19th 2012



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nearly forgot: if anyone delving into the album wants to know more about the recording process, source
material, instruments etc there're a few tomes worth of PDFs on their website:
http://pepedeluxe.com/

and thanks.

chambered69
February 19th 2012



1253 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this album is so fucking weird i really cant tell if i like it or not

chambered69
February 19th 2012



1253 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i will say my flaming thirst is incredible

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2012



7310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

For the love of 1970s James Bond movie soundtracks, I'm bumping my rating.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2012



30873 Comments


mostly due to surreal nature of both books


Due to the surreal nature

a never ending barrage of sound: sounds of which have never been heard before.


This would properly work better as "barrage of various sounds, some of which"

the two men behind Pepe Deluxe has certainly kept themselves busy.


Have kept themselves busy

with an unashamedly bonkers romp through retro beats surreal landscapes.


beats and surreal landscapes

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

chambered69
February 19th 2012



1253 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

so wild

fsharptrit0ne
February 19th 2012



4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yea basically best album ever

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
February 20th 2012



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A'ite, thanks dev, album rules, shame this wasn't front paged, I'll be back later to fix things up cos I have some exams to do which I haven't revised for (I did this review instead).

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
February 20th 2012



30873 Comments


Had you reviewed it closer to the time it would've been most likely. But nearly 3 weeks later...

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
February 20th 2012



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

In all fairness, it took me a good while to get my head around it.

Anyway, just as I finished editing stuff, I realised that facebook had left me a little present:

"Wow ... there are writers and then there are WRITERS! Mr. Hunter you are truly a wizard of words, we are honored!" - Pepe Deluxe. *swoons*

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
February 20th 2012



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hey, don't mind me I'll just be over here wrestling my own ego back down into the dark, dank well it just popped out of.

fsharptrit0ne
February 20th 2012



4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

grats on that nice compliment from the band. review is very good

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
February 20th 2012



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks

Scoot
February 20th 2012



17681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hmm this looks interesting


Digging: Unjust - Glow

fsharptrit0ne
February 20th 2012



4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

listen to it



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