Phew

Phew

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

This is a superb, virtually unknown album by the Japanese vocalist Phew, formerly of the punk/no wave band Aunt Sally. Backed by members of Can -- Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit -- and recorded at Conny Plank's studios in Germany, it has the earmarks of an album Can could have made, had they taken a different path after Ege Bamyasi. Phew's vocals are not by any formal standards very expressive, but they fit the icy urgency her compatriots create, and pitch the song-oriented cycle towards a more approachable form even for the casual listener. The mostly minimalistic landscape of the record is repetitive, rhythmic, and spacious. "Doze" adds an eerie child-like keyboard melody to a wonderful effect, and "P-Adic" is a disjointed, unlikely pop song, with an insistent beat and an off-kilter synth solo. "Signal" come closest to popular music, with Phew's insistent vocals chanting in Japanese over the expansive backbone Czukay and Liebezeit effortlessly create. With small variations in the beat, enhanced by subtle keyboard flourishes and echoey production, the sound manages to capture both the wide surrounding expanse as well as the tight clarity necessary to distinguish even the smallest nuance in the music. The crispness of the production creates a hypnotic loop that insists you pay attention. The mood varies from song to song, most of which are around the three-minute mark, and when the 35-minute record is over you're eager to repeat the experience. Phew's future albums would add more elements to her sound with some success, but the precise organic cohesiveness of her self-titled debut is difficult top.

Track Listing

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blue highlight denotes track pick