Bohren & Der Club Of Gore
Piano Nights


4.0
excellent

Review

by TMobotron CONTRIBUTOR (20 Reviews)
February 2nd, 2014 | 19 replies | 3,028 views


Release Date: 01/24/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bohren's best work in a decade expands their sound to mostly successful results.

There’s something about the brooding pace, the somber saxophone and the wishful keys of Bohren & der Club of Gore’s music that evokes the imagery of midnight city streets more vividly than it seems music should be capable of capturing. Of course, when your music is often referred to as “noir jazz” because it exists as a distant, moody offspring of noir film soundtracks, it benefits from the previously existing association that the noir era created between low-key jazz and dark cities. But there’s a reason this type of music was specific to that style. These instruments, when played at this brooding, lustful pace, simply ooze the shadowy, melancholy feelings that are naturally associated with rain highlighted by streetlights, fog illuminated by headlights, and jazz bar stage lights filtered through cigarette smoke.

On Piano Nights, Bohren brings a lot of their past work together to create some of their most powerful and matured creations to date. Many tracks here exist as combinations of the best elements of past work, while a few sound like they were lifted from the best batch of their old material. Opener “Im Rauch” is the best example of the benefits of Bohren uniting all aspects of their sound. It’s aesthetically most reminiscent of Sunset Mission, as the moody sax defines much of the track’s dark and melancholy atmosphere, but it’s structured more loosely like something from Dolores, which allows for the isolated, emotive saxophone’s smoky rise out of the density of the hazy backdrop to hit more surprisingly and more powerfully. Taking the forefront of the track, rather than working directly alongside of the keys, more weight is placed on the instrument, and that responsibility yields perhaps the most heartfelt and soulful performance of Bohren’s career.

Piano Nights is varied not just in structure or approach, but in mood and aesthetic as well. Dolores’s bright, Eno-influenced synths are lifted directly for the pervading aura of “Segeln ohne Wind”, but Piano Nights thankfully places most of the hopeful mood in the hands of the saxophonist, who in turn provides a powerful but uncharacteristically uplifting centerpiece for the song, which is something Dolores desperately needed. Despite some of the brilliance on display here, Piano Nights isn’t entirely without fault. The album is often stripped down to some of the band’s most minimal stylings, but while Black Earth used the emptiness to share an even more visceral loneliness through the jazz instrumentation, Piano Nights relies too heavily on the droning synths. The synths themselves aren’t problematic, and when they’re varied to provide a more uplifting soundscape they display a new dimension of the band’s more recent sound, but Bohren uses them far too often as an atmospheric crutch in the silence left by the sparse use of their more masterful instrumentation, and the dark synths are generally used too liberally throughout the album to the point where they hold very little weight even when they carry the brunt of the ambiance.

Fortunately, these issues only reveal themselves on a couple of tracks here, and the lengthier pieces are all sprawling masterpieces. Ten minute “Verloren (Alles)” is the album’s peak, maintaining its relentlessly brooding sentiment while it weaves in and out of every aspect of the band’s sound. Like the album’s opener, “Verloren”’s instruments rise and fall unannounced out of the gloom, each time more demanding and more determined than the last, until everything settles back into the unnerving silence that surrounds it.

Piano Nights is Bohren’s most powerful work since 2002’s Black Earth, and though its consistency falters slightly in a couple of places, Bohren’s sound has always had the benefit of retaining its nature as a moody backdrop even at its worst. But Piano Nights hits far more often than it misses, and when it hits it’s more on point and focused than Bohren has been in a decade, producing some of the band’s best output to date. Piano Nights shows that late in their career, Bohren still strives to evolve and expand their sound, and for a band that’s spent over twenty years creating low-key and subdued works, they’re still making a lot of noise.



Recent reviews by this author
A/T/O/S A/T/O/SLucy Churches Schools and Guns
Shackleton Freezing Opening ThawingSlugabed DO U C ME THO/U RIGHT
Logos Cold MissionDance Gavin Dance Acceptance Speech
user ratings (45)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
February 1st 2014



6920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was streaming on P4k advance but I think it's gone now, if there's a stream somewhere else that anyone knows of let me know. Otherwise, the album's out now for purchase.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2014



5923 Comments


Good album, needs exposure

SeaAnemone
February 1st 2014



18802 Comments


sweet, very glad this got reviewed
have it queued for listen, just got it

breakingthefragile
February 1st 2014



2935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Surprisingly engaging stuff.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2014



2675 Comments


Kind of on the fence about this one. I like it, but next to all the awesome stuff coming out recently it's just a little dull.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2014



18197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is great. Only heard it once so far though, gotta give it more spins.

Digging: Benoit Pioulard - Hymnal Remixes

slagun
February 2nd 2014



570 Comments


Only thing Ive heard from these guys is Sunset Mission. Might give this a try though

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2014



17337 Comments


good review but i disagree a little bit. this just sounds too much like dolores pt. 2 with piano, i wish theyd have mixed up their sound palette a bit more. at this point we've heard all the sounds on this record before, and since theyre style is so unique changing up the sounds is really the only way they can make a change and still be bohren i think

i wish those synths had taken a more prominent role, then this would have been great.

Digging: Monolake - Interstate

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2014



6248 Comments


This should be good.

Nice review man. Hoping you get contrib'd next week!

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

Keyblade
February 2nd 2014



13255 Comments


Sweet rev man gotta czech

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins

Alastor
February 2nd 2014



229 Comments


who is that guy on the album cover? he looks kind of familiar

SeaAnemone
February 2nd 2014



18802 Comments


is it skele?

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
February 3rd 2014



6920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha you think he's got a Demi Lovato shirt under that sweater?

@hyp - I saw your soundoff before my write-up and I disagree pretty strongly. First, I absolutely love the palette this band is working with, which might be a personal bias that's not shared by everyone, but I would hate it if they changed it up too much.

They are varying it some with the use of synths, but I actually find them to be a little soulless compared to the piano and especially the sax (which has always been my favorite part of this band). IMO the synths get stale on here at a few points but I would especially dislike if they were displayed even more prominently. But I do think that the band's sound is being varied with the differing song structures - on earlier works most tracks are structured very rigidly, and the brooding mood is created by repetition of the instruments. Here, the mood is created more often with negative space or the dark synths, which allows the sax or piano to enter unexpectedly and solo on their own without leaving a gap in the atmosphere, which is why the sax on the opener and Verloren hits so hard just on its entrance, but it also gives the saxophonist room to work on his own and create his most emotional output in my opinion.

I don't think they've perfected what they're doing here, but I do think it's a great style and different enough from previous work that it's one of their stronger releases. I didn't find it that similar to Dolores overall, though it was far less immediate than Sunset Mission or Black Earth. I also don't like it as much as those two (both of which I love), but it's their next best for me.

IDK maybe it would grow on you with more time? But if you're tired of their sound palette then maybe not - I will say that I'm probably more likely to appreciate their output than most because I really just love their sound - Sunset Mission probably has my favorite mood of any album ever.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2014



17337 Comments


yeah no doubt i love their older stuff, i just feel like they've already done it before, and i think their sound has potential to still be unique even within the confines of their own cannon, which i dont really find is here

regardless i still like this, and like i said Segeln ohne Wind is too good, i just wanted more.

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
February 3rd 2014



6920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I hear you. I really can't emphasize enough how much of my love for this band comes from their moody aesthetic though, so sometimes it's hard for me to critique harshly even their worst output when it's still conveying a mood I'm infatuated with.

But I definitely agree on the Segeln point, that track is fantastic.

Underflow
February 19th 2014



2174 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is their best since Black Earth. Amazing album.

Digging: The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

CaptainDooRight
February 28th 2014



26376 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

pretty disappointing

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2014



18197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's decent but yeah it is a little disappointing.

Dullard
March 31st 2014



1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Quiet and unassuming, good album.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy