Review Summary: Two artistic geniuses come together to make a revealing, passionate and sophisticated album
The paring of Blixa Bargeld of the legendary industrial group Einstürzende Neubauten and composer Teho Teardo may be unexpected. The two musicians have a trail of high quality releases though in seeming separate spectrums. Yet, the experimental and versatile nature of each artist makes the pairing a match made in heaven; leading to Still Smiling
sounding both familiar and strange at the same time.
To the Neubauten fans, Still Smiling
may be familiar to the newer, mellower albums the band has been releasing. Still Smiling
is focused on vocals, percussion, mild repetition and plays with silence like it is an instrument. However it separates itself with its chamber pop characteristics. The rhythm is done not with drums or any type of percussion instrument. Instead classical stringed instruments take control of the rhythm duties. Because of this, each beat, each note has a slight inflection giving the music a very warm, passionate feeling. Gentle electronics flow through the music, so soft they may be missed on the initial listen, but go to elevate the music to a spine chilling emotional level.
This album has been described as having Blixa Bargeld's most personal lyrics. Bargeld's voice sounds very sincere and impassioned, though he rarely delvers lyrics louder than speaking volume. Tracks like A Quiet Life
and the album's title track has Bergeld delivering a tear jerking performances. The lyrics are intricate and spoken in three different languages; English, German and Italian. Though the lyrics are detailed, they feel very humble, like a man traveling through life writing his ideas of heaven, death and the purposes of life. The lyrics do revel personal conflicts, like the final track with an interview sample where it is pointed out that Bargeld's music "softened a lot." This sample as well as many of the lyrical theme deal with trying to escape and deal with one's past.
is an album of opposites; simple yet intricate, poppy yet experimental, emotionally driven yet diligently composed. Teho Tearado and Blixa Bergeld work perfectly together to create an album that revels sensitive conflict in the artists, but is still able to remain dignified and sophisticated. An album recommended for those looking for music that is unique but is still refined and elegant.