SCHWARZ - Cheesy

Schwarz - Cheesy

8 songs
46:36 minutes
***** ****
Astro / Tumbleweed


Although the band has a German name, and we received the album from a German record label, Schwarz are a Spanish indie noise band who released their third album Cheesy already in 2002 on the Spanish label Astro Discos, and now, two years later, Tumbleweed have been so awed by the magnificence of this album that they have licensed it for the Western European market.

The first four minutes of the opener Gasoline may leave you clueless, as the repetitive but not that inspiring start may be quite nice, but nothing overwhelming. It's only when the song is two-thirds through that the album is picking up energy. A cheesy sounding organ (hence the album title?) is joining the music, the drums pick up the pace, and all of a sudden, there is real motion in the music. The next song, The Impossible Dream, is the first highlight of the album. One of the few songs below the four minutes limit, it has a more accessible melody, although the band does its best to distort the sound as much as possible. While the guitars are thus taken totally over the top, a flutish mellotron assures that there remains a hint of melody, while the drums sound as if the Muppets Animal has been let loose. Sounds chaotic? But isn't! This makes for a wonderfully disguised pop song, and it is here where I first felt reminded of My Bloody Valentine. The following track You And Me And The Vacuum sounds like the soundtrack to a cheap sci-fi B-movie of the 1950s, before the title track starts the more monumental part of this truly elevating piece of music. With rather long song structures, and two songs (Peppermint, Say Goodbye With A Kiss) even surpassing the 8-minutes limit, there is a lot of space for crazy ideas. Schwarz use the opportunity to grab deeply into the tricks bag of 70s rock, mostly owing to psychedelic rock la Hawkwind and kraut rock (Can, early Kraftwerk), but always adding contemporary 90s influences, like mid-period Sonic Youth and early Mercury Rev. The frequent use of the mellotron calls to mind the atmospheric sounds of their first hit song Chasing A Bee.

Quite a few bands have done this borrowing from 70s rock without being neither hardrock nor prog. I can think of the Dutch Incense but also to a certain extent the Belgian Hypnos 69, although Schwarz are being much more radical about their influences. The album has been recorded over the period of six months in their own studio, and maybe that's what makes for this very original sound, but somehow the lack of compromising with contemporary hypes makes this a daring album which might scare off those who are afraid to try something new. In my opinion though, Cheesy is one of the most refreshing and memorable albums to be released in a very long time, and it's only a shame that it took Western Europe two years to realise this, but thanks to Tumbleweed we can finally enjoy the wonderful sounds of Schwarz. Cheesy is a near-perfect album that gets 9 big points!

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