Reaching out to indie audiences
Instrumental music can tell stories as sweetly as those with lyrics. Melody, key change, tone and emphasis react, like chemicals, with our imagination. The best tracks of Egopusher's debut album, Blood Red, offer listeners the space to drift off and dream up scenarios, directing a film in their own mind.
Violinist Tobias Preisig and drummer Alessandro Giannelli use electronics, FX pedals and drum machines to hype up and regenerate the violin. They are part of a burgeoning scene of instrumental musicians reaching out to indie and alternative audiences. But for this album the duo wisely focus on atmosphere and lyricism, and avoid forcing the violin to 'rock'; others have missed the mark doing this.
I imagine the director Kieślowski has returned to earth
William is a fine example of the tenderness of the violin, and Preisig turns and twists notes imperceptibly with such care, daring us to hear the most minimal shudder. This track runs into Jennifer (William Part II) as it rolls in beats and deepens the intensity as if driving into a digital dance field. I can imagine this working at festivals like the elevated track, Patrol.
But it's Flake and Blur that win me over. Using a style reminiscent of '80s synth music, they are raw and elegiac, with almost a sense of post-Communist Europe. I imagine the director Kieślowski has returned to earth to tell one last tale - of a young couple. As Preisig plucks notes on his electrified violin, this boy and girl look into a shop window, the glass is hard and cold, and their reflection hits back; it's them against an old, bitter world. As Blur climbs with drum thuds, sweeping keyboard sounds and the repeated string melody, the couple start to run, fast.
There is a simplicity and soul
The elements of rock drum, electro-bass plus violin don't always gel but, competing synth and violin refrains work really well here. Preisig's playing still feels masterful as he exploits early memories of folk music from his native Appenzell region. There is a simplicity and soul to Auf Der Mauer and I love when Giannelli crashes in with deep, digital drum rolls whilst the melody loses itself in melancholy.
Prelude is, of course, the final track on the album, it's the sort of humour I associate with this duo. From beneath the doleful beauty of Blood Red there is a glimpse of a playful and cheeky smile.