Despite the fact that it was recorded and released roughly four years after Budapest and ac/dB [Hayden], Wertmüller remains very close to them in sound and style. The album's title is in honor of composer Michael Wertmüller, a drummer who has previously worked with Stephan Wittwer (who himself has written a number of pieces for Steamboat Switzerland) and Alboth (whose singer is featured here). Wertmüller is a 12-piece cycle entirely penned by its namesake for the trio, plus singer Daniel Lieder, who performs five poems by Michael Lenz. Except for the vocals, the music is pure Steamboat: heavy, loud, both macroscopically complex and microscopically minimalist. Dominik Blum's Hammond organ is thunderous in "VI" and "IV," among other places. Lucas Niggli's drumming rests somewhere between Mike Portnoy and Yoshimi P-We, while Marino Pliakas' electric bass often gets the stranger, more dissonant parts. Wertmüller's compositional approach differs from Sam Hayden (the featured composer on ac/dB [Hayden]) in that it relies less on pounding riffs and more on (a)tonal textures and melodic development -- another paradox for the trio to work from. Lieder's voice is obviously the new variable. Highly expressive, with a penchant for switching from whisper to scream in a nanosecond (anyone else reminded of Mike Patton?), the voice is used as a fourth instrument, blending in with the other parts. It is particularly convincing in "5:4 [darf das so sein]" and "rH.IH.IF.rF [schönheit]." Most of all, it expands the group's sound without denaturing it. The result is another strong, unique statement from one of the most unusual power trios in Europe.
Share this page