With a couple of low key releases under their belts over the space of the last thirteen years, Geniuser return with their first release for the magnificently-named Ahh Ohh Records in the shape of new album I Am.
Made up of legendary 4AD band The Wolfgang Press’ Michael Allen and painter and producer Giusepppe De Bellis, the duo trade in a foreboding electronica that somehow seems perfect for these troubled times.
Allen’s distinctive vocals, a kind of hybrid of Nick Cave and Matt Johnson, are an ideal foil for the accompanying synth-based foundations, and the choral flourishes contrast nicely with the doomy backing in opener ‘Man Of God’, which brings to mind Recoil (AKA Alan Wilder, formerly of Depeche Mode), which is certainly no bad thing.
‘Je Suis Geniuser’ takes things up a notch, a sort of theme song for the duo, Allen singing “Je suis Geniuser / Je suis agent provocateur” over the claustrophobic, beat driven accompaniment. Think Massive Attack at their most brooding. ‘Find You’ on the other hand has a little light to complement the shade, not that Allen dials his vocal performance back at all, his impassioned soul lifts the record to another dimension. After just a couple of listens, these songs burrow into the consciousness and refuse to budge, despite being relatively uncommercial on the whole.
The quality and intensity doesn’t let up through the whole album, ‘Can I Can’ is an extraordinary track, a choir sing Samuel Barber‘s ‘Adagio For Strings’ underneath an uncompromising, clattering rhythm track, while ‘No Countries’ again takes the template of a thundering rhythm track juxtaposed with beautifully melancholic distant voices and Allen’s disaffected vocals.
Elsewhere, ‘A Thousand Sorrows’ is touchingly tender, and almost reaches into Scott 4 territory at the start of the song when it is just strings and vocals, before relatively subdued beats join the track and take it in another direction. When Allen repeatedly sings “I can’t go back” at the end, it’s heartbreaking.
The album’s title track is saved until last, and is quite a reserved way to end the record, almost like the efforts of the past three quarters of an hour have taken their toll, Allen gently intoning his thoughts as opposed to the bombast of the earlier parts of the journey.
Speaking before unleashing I Am on the world, Allen stated that “We want to make music that is challenging, honest and attacks the senses”. He can rest assured that this is precisely what the album achieves. One of the most intoxicating releases of the year; uneasy listening at its best.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.