The subject of Testbild!'s 2007 album makes an intriguing study in its own right -- Isabelle Eberhardt, a Swiss-born writer whose mélange of spiritual and political impulses fought against nearly every orthodoxy possible in late Victorian times, and who died in a flash flood in Algeria in 1904. Impossible to know what she would have thought of Testbild!'s tribute to her life, but it's another intriguing chapter in that group's history, transposing its fondness for moody soundscapes and experimentation to a different realm than before. If the use of various Arabic and North African musical and sonic signifiers can be seen as orientalist in some eyes, given the subject of the album it's only appropriate, since both writer and band are dedicated to finding their own middle ground. Hearing the crystalline smooth '60s-style vocal harmonies opening "Labyrinthine" shift into what could be a field recording in Algiers, or noting how "Evening Star" feels like it could be both the Free Design and the soundtrack to The Sheltering Sky is only appropriate. The album's general pattern deserves praise as well -- its careful but not overly forced sequencing moves between formal songs as such, brief instrumentals, and atmospheric spoken word pieces based on Eberhardt's own writings, accompanied with backgrounds of swooping winds and other "you are there" details that are handled very well. Overall it's another feather in Testbild!'s cap, showing again that putative genre-identifying is nowhere near as interesting as simply going ahead and doing what you want to do.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett