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Pokerface - Silver Heart - Part 1 CD (album) cover

SILVER HEART - PART 1

Pokerface

RIO/Avant-Prog


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zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Pokerface is the Swedish group consisting of keyboardist/vocalist Stefan Heidevik and whoever he happens to be working with at the time. Silver Heart - Part 1 is I assume the first of a two-part work. In general, what is found here is similar to the last album Transeo. Differences include the absence of saxophone and trumpet, but the addition of an accordion. For whatever reason some of the song titles are in German. Basically the music of Pokerface can be described as a mix of modern experimental electronic music and 'traditional' avant-prog. Programmed beats are mixed with an actual human drummer; the drumming on this album stands out more than on the last one.

"Der Schlo▀ Adler" is a short intro track which sounds like a mix of Finnish avant-proggers Alamaailman Vasarat and British IDM legends Autechre. "Thank You Wendy" starts off with some icy synth arpeggios and a little bit of guitar before turning into some electronic rock with jazzy guitar. Towards the end the drummer goes berserk in some great controlled chaos. "Sticks And Stones" is one of the highlights and one of the more accessible songs here. We get vocals for the first time on the album, both wordless harmony vocals and solo vocals in English. A moody piece of music but also oddly uplifting as well. Based around a slow metronome-like beat and synths.

"Autumn-Winter-Fall" is the most avant track on the album. No beats or any kind of a real melody or rhythm. Just synthetic crunching like sounds before some synth notes get repeated and accelerated. A little bit of guitar here which reminds me of Syd Barrett. "Muttersprache" is more in IDM territory musically while the vocals (which sound like both male and female) are subdued and moody. "Heartland (To Dad)" gets into post-rock/shoegaze mode. Nice atmospheric guitarwork soars over a repetitive and almost hypnotic rhythm on drums and bass. The drum pattern is fairly intricate while sounding more simple.

This song features singing which is doubled on a keyboard or vibes. Halfway the guitar playing changes to chords almost playing riffs, then goes back to being atmospheric. "Muttersprache Reprise" takes the melodies of the original and replicates them on strings. This time features two different sounding male voices. Silver Heart - Part 1 is a good follow-up to Transeo and is even better and more consistent. Recommended to fans of avant-rock and electronic-oriented rock. Who knows what Part 2 is going to sound like. I will give this 4 stars.

Report this review (#914586)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars In reviewing Transeo, the previous album of the Pokerface project I have looked for similarities. Rereading it I have mentioned Christian Kolf and Ozric tentacles. Now, even if some similarities can be found, I can say that this new pokerface album is highly original and with a very distinctive sound.

There's much electronics, especially in drumming, some touches of jazz spreaded here and there, and a general darkness which sometimes trespasses into the space rock realm.

"Der Schlo▀ Adler" (The Castle Eagle) is different from the other album's tracks, so it can't give a clear idea of what the listener will find. The concertina which sets up the rhythmic base and the drone drumming behind create a sort of dark ambient mixture with some flavor of jazz. The short pauses of silence and background music reminds to the ethnic interludes of Senmuth but absolutely not outplaced.

"Thank You Wendy" is amazing. Dreamy bells on which a guitar plays a sort of blues-rock in a contrast which sounds weird and dark. Bass and percussions add a touch of electronics while the total absence of melody is incredible, Every sound is studied, no notes are misplaced while the electric guitar explores the world of acid jazz. Instruments playing things apparently different and disconnected, including the first "real drums" riff, able to create something structured and consistent. Order coming from chaos.

"Sticks And Stones" opens like a Tangerine Dream track of the pink period: an organ playing discordant chords, but it's just for few moments. The heavy percussion and the choir deploy a layer of darkness, then the song starts. It's a slow jazzy song with a weird arrangement. I've been recently listening to Carla Bley and this song with its sudden but smooth changes of pitch has something similar.

"Autumn-Winter-Fall" is spacey. I have mentioned "trespassing to space rock", well, this is the first journey out of that border. One of the best moments of the whole album followed by "Muttersprache" (Mother's Speech) which runs in the same realm, with a choir whose female voice is not credited (unless it's an effect). I can't follow the lyrics, but it gives me the idea of sounds heard by a fetus.

The next track, "Heartland (To Dad)", is another spacey follow-up with a background layer of, I think, distorted guitar. The voice usually does what's possible to avoid being trivial or even melodic, but this song is the most melodic one. Very dark and electronic, but melodic. "Lost in time" he repeats...I'd like to know what the lyrics say, as my impression is of a moving song, the less experimental which has also a rocking part starting just in the middle of the song and a spacey coda.

The reprise of "Muttersprache" reprises the theme but now the mood is darker. It's not a darkness made of perils and fears. It's a darkness made of incoming dreams, it's faliing asleep and find yourself in a different world, while the muffled sounds of a voice arrive distorted to your ears. It looks like a dark lullaby.

Since now, a number of bonus tracks come. The first is a live version of "Sticks and Stones" enhanced by an excellent trumpet which makes it sound even more jazz. "Beginnings and Endings comes from Transeo. Its live arrangement, thanks also to the trumpet, cries "jazz", as well as "Krtek ve Snu" (Mole in a Dream). The particularity of this second track is the (electronic) drumming line.

This excellent album is closed by an unreleased live track, "Beneath The Tree" whose instrumentation is very particular and reminds me to the early works of Laurie Anderson.

It can't have less than 4 stars

Report this review (#914816)
Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Pokerface is an artist which we haven't heard so much about here at Prog Archives. His name is Stefan Heidevik and seems to be an artist making his music mostly with help of a computer. That's also a way to do it and I'll try to don't let my prejudicies ruin it. "Silver Heart - Part 1" is his third studio record but it's a short one. Without the bonus track it counts 33 minutes and 44 seconds. Honestly that's enough for me. I didn't manage to listen to the bonus tracks.

I don't doubt Pokerface's musicality or other's possible appreciation of this music but I just find it lame. It's like some form of back ground music, ambient or what we shall call it. I'll start with the good things about this record:

On some tracks we can hear real instruments such as Morgan ┼gren and Oscar Johansson's drums(2+6) and it seems to be wind-instruments, bass and accordion on track 1. Now to what I don't like. Bryan Baker plays guitar nicely on two tracks.

This feels computer made in many ways such as the drum machine and a not usual voice. I have actually hard to mention what I think's good here. Consider I am not very much into space rock, krautrock, post rock, alternative rock and indie etcera. I don't know so much about it either so I won't say this sounds like something like that, but I guess so. And...unfortunatley I don't like it.

But musical taste is personal and I am sure others will like this so listen and write your opinion about "Silver Heart - Part 1". You can listen at pokerface.bandcamp.com. I can't go further than giving this two starts.

Songs: Thank you Wendy(6/10), Der Schloss adler(5/10), Muttersprache(4/10), Sticks and stones(3/10), Autumn-winter-fall(3/10), Heartland(3/10) and Muttersprache(3/10)

And I don't use to review bonus tracks. I don't like the feature BONUS TRACK. An album is an album and bonus track's bother me only if I am a fanatic praiser of a band's music such as I am to Beatles and Genesis' music.

Report this review (#1031860)
Posted Wednesday, September 11, 2013 | Review Permalink

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