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Village Of Savoonga - 14 - 09 - 01

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Artist: Village Of Savoonga

Album: 14 - 09 - 01

Label: The Communion Label

Review date: Nov. 18, 2003

German super-collective Village of Savoonga have, since their inception in 1991, played amongst the shadows cast by their various members’ more critically successful and accessible concerns. With members of Tied and Tickled Trio and The Notwist in their ranks, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Village would be inhabited by polite hybrids of nuanced pop and post-rock jazz lite. But loyal followers know better.

This, their fourth recording, and rumor has it their last, serves as an awkward testament to the band’s sonic adventuring. A live document of their performance at the annual Hausmusik Festival in 2001 sees the band returning to their beginnings as a fairly straight-forward guitar group. Gone are the loop experiments and atmospheric mood-pieces; left behind are the subdued pacing and tinkering with structure that marked so much of their recent discography. Just at the moment when such elements can win you admission to the sheikdom of hip, Just at the moment when such elements can win you admittance to the sheikdom of hip, Village of Savoonga relinquish the keys to the door.

Obviously, the good people of Savoonga wanted to go out with a bang, and in this respect a live album makes perfect sense. Consequently, we are exposed to the tortured screams of razor-blade sharp guitars, scything the air with their cutting glass treble, while the most Germanic of regimented Neu-type drumming underpins, but struggles to propel. There’s the occasional vocal thrown in too, lightly sprinkled and served up as mere afterthought – but I wouldn’t worry too much about them, the band obviously didn’t.

During the set’s best moments the band comes close (but no Cubans) to the raw aggressive angularity of Shellac in their prime or a slightly less self-aware, self-important Don Caballero. But for the most part there is a real paucity of such peaks. It is a shame to see a band with the propensity to fascinate electing to bow out on a work marked by a lack of ambition, no matter the degree of sincerity buried at its root.

By Spencer Grady

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