Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Switzerland is renowned for its breathtaking beauty, the towering and snow-capped mountains and glistening lakes a feast for the senses.
A wonderful peace fills the air and settles like a warm and bright blanket upon any who visit there, serenity and sunshine flooding the soul.
It’s therefore a wonderful juxtaposition that Zurich based trio The Beauty of Gemina have managed to produce an album so soaked in the atmosphere of the dark and moody underbelly of the American South-West to such stunning effect in this, their ninth album.
In fact, ‘atmospheric’ is the key word to encapsulate this release, the journey it takes you on both as beautiful and cinematic as their home country.
Whilst the music itself may sound somewhat sombre there is an undoubted optimism and lightness at its core, the lyrics always searching and full of hope.
It’s an unbelievably heady mix that speaks of a uniqueness and artistic vision not constrained by usual norms but full of a life of its own and one that will reach into the very soul of the listener.
Rather than the vision of the sunlit peaks of the Jungfrau and Eiger mountains, opener ‘A Night Like This’ conjures up images of a tripped-out journey through the deserts of the Mojave, all endless straight roads and bleached and cracked abandoned wooden shacks.
Mixing the psychedelia of The Doors as singer, guitarist and keyboard player Michael Sele channels Jim Morrison and Nick Cave, there is an otherworldly urgency but glacial cool at play here that immediately captivates.
‘Naked’ shimmers beautifully, seducing with space and atmosphere whilst ‘Maybe God Knows’ rolls with a bluesy groove that lifts and sweeps away the grey clouds with more answers than questions.
Woozy, late night bar song ‘Friends of Mine’ is heartbreakingly fragile, all cigarette smoke, whiskey and barely held back tears as the rain beats lightly against the windows bringing an air of melancholy but this shifts to the slinky, shuffling widescreen desert rock of ‘Resurgence’, the shift in gear both smooth and sublime.
There is a real craft in what The Beauty of Gemina do here that points to a very individual outlook on the world, their Swiss precision balancing perfectly with the loose and effortless vibes herein.
Andi Zuber’s bass and the drums of Mac Vinzens are the perfect match to all that Sele plays and sings, along with guest multi-instrumentalist and arranger Philipp Küng, creating magic on their own terms and in their own unique way, seemingly linked telepathically. Grace, style and an exquisite warmth abide here.
The album is one of those rarities, all killer, not filler, as the band sweep from one track to the next, highs and lows charted with a cartographer’s attention to detail. Low, urgent ‘Where Has It All Gone’, visionary ‘Rainbow Man’, fast paced rock in ‘Dark Suzanne’ and the enigmatic country folk of Sisters Of Mercy cover ‘Nine While Nine’ are all very different in approach but all slip by like quicksilver through your mind.
Along with this otherworldly musical kaleidoscope is a rich lyrical vein, the intelligence of the warmly spreading rhythms shot through with a raw soul that is very human indeed.
In the slow blues of ‘I Come To Grief’, upbeat ‘Apologise’ and the gorgeous pairing of the equally sublime ‘The World Is Going On’ and ‘Hold On To This Night’ it’s impossible to not have your breath taken away.
It’s just left to the electronica infused hypnosis of ‘Where Has It All Gone’ to close this particular chapter in the bands journey, left field compared to what has gone before but pitch perfect as an end destination as this travelogue returns home. Prepare to have your life changed.