Philipp Quehenberger

Phantom in Paradise

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Philipp Quehenberger's jack-of-all-trades musical upbringing is not per se unique in electronic music -- some of the best musicians in the genre succeed precisely because they're all over the place in their tastes and experiences, and certainly that's the case with Quehenberger's work in general. No question, though, that he comes up with a sharp, strong individual voice on Phantom in Paradise, his first full album after various earlier releases and collaborations (notably in the studio with DJ Hell). With production help from Patrick Pulsinger, Quehenberger's work openly rocks out from the start -- "Wives with Knives" practically revels in its transposition of metal riff construction into the electronic world. There's an earnest chunkiness -- one could almost say clunkiness, but not negatively -- in the use of abrupt, clipped beats and synth tones throughout Phantom in Paradise, immediately calling to mind initial experiments from decades back courtesy of D.A.F. and Depeche Mode, two acts among many whose ghost hangs heavy over songs like "Loner Goner" and the squelching bass and clatter of "Ozerea 1." The fluidity that can be heard on songs like "That's That" and the concluding "Verdammst!," though, shows how well he can combine various approaches to create a new, more flexible form out of heavier grinds. Quehenberger's very occasional speak-sing vocals call another Central European set of innovators to mind -- the mighty Yello -- but Quehenberger's tone is more serenely observational, perhaps more in line with the calmer moments of Yello's compatriots the Young Gods (whose rushing moodiness on "Speed of Night" is intriguingly evoked on Quehenberger's "Varad"). For all the various reference points that one can make, though, this is an accomplished fusion and projection into a newer time of this sound and style, and the long wait for a full album from Quehenberger has excellently paid off.

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