I really enjoy live albums. It’s just that typical ‘roaring’ sound of people cheering and applauding in between songs, the bare bone arrangements and sweaty energy, bands spreading their four minute songs out over ten minutes as if it were peanut butter. Live albums show what a band is worth with their instruments in their hands, on the edge of discomfort in boiling hot rooms, a few beers chucked down their throats. It’s the moment of truth, it’s the moment of sublime assay.
With “Off the Beaten Track” Austrian hard rockers Mother’s Cake have definitely passed that testing. Six songs of rigorous prowess and blood-curdling beatings show Mother’s Cake to be at the top of their game. The terrific blend of hard rock, progressive rock and funky blues displayed on their debut album “Creation’s Finest” has been stripped of its sleek production and spacey glitter, entering the earthly hollows of human grit and violent retort.
RELEASE DATE: 18 July 2014 LABEL: GAB Music
“Creation’s Finest” starts the album in elegant fashion yet soon bursts out into an incredible manifestation of muscular funk, with Yves Krismer’s barking voice shooting sharp at the destructive egomania that seems innate to human behaviour. The swagger of his singing seems to cloth his condemning lyrics in some sort of sacrosanctity, rendering him unassailable to people that are prone to call out his own hypocrisy.
Mother’s Cake are masters of dynamic control. “Realitricked Me” is an example of how the music builds up in careful fashion, with every meticulous hit of the tom, with every strike of the snare the tension slowly increases. A new riff subtly enters the scene and every measure or so it solidifies, it becomes louder, and at the end of the song it climaxes on a level of intensity which you didn’t even think possible.
With the advent of singer Heidi Erler on “Invisible” the music seems to take a little turn to become something more traditional; the shortest song on this album is so calm that it almost becomes eerie. It starts off sounding like something you could hear in every pub on every street corner. Little girl singing, sulky jazz combo in the background, you know it. Then the song is taken through some funky voice riffing while all instruments slowly increase their oomph in the mix. Then Andreas “Andalog” Tentschert turns the knobs on his keyboard, Kremer starts wailing on his guitar and the whole song is sent flying.
The subsequent “Soul Prison” is another gem. Krismer duets drummer Jan Haußels in a fashion that makes me think of The XX (of all bands!). The looming bass riff soon gives way however to the Mother’s cake we’ve all come to know on the first half of the album and all brakes are released in a massive chorus. The second half of the song shows some more interesting influences, when Erler returns to vocals and Krismer turns his guitar down to play an elegant two-minute solo. Like George Benson singing along to his guitar solos, Krismer and Erler duet in an elegant trot over a soft bedding of bass, electric piano and bongo drums.
Album closer “Runaway” is a ten-minute beast that sports a barrage of Megadeth guitar riffing and bass player Benedikt Trenkwalder becoming like the terrible hulk. His slapping technique here is lightning fast and this time the XX-voicing comes back in combination with Erler. I really love how this album wears its influences on its sleeve and plays with them, without becoming unoriginal and tiring.
Right off the bat, this band captured the imagination of not only me, but also of many of my friends. The accompanying video that the band uploaded on Youtube is a fantastic piece of art that shows the band playing interspersed with shots of psychedelic sci-fi landscapes and extraterrestrial characters. The thing that really bugs me here is the fact that on the movie, the songs flow like one big piece, yet on the album they are cut up and they don’t run over into each other anymore. This brings me to the point of wanting to elevate the movie over the album, just for the sake of the better experience it brings of the music.
Speaking in conclusion, “Off the Beaten Track” is like a superb wine, one that you drink down with ease yet it has a taste that caresses every corner of your mouth with tannate strokes of tenderness. Mother’s Cake are an act that curb some serious playing talent and songwritership into 50 minutes of powerhouse machinery and fireworks; unfailing and excellent.