September 2007 Mystical Stupid
Bevel - Phoenician Terrane (CD, Contraphonic, Progressive)
Before we begin here...we're going to warn you that we are probably are not going to be able to adequately describe this music and what it actually sounds like. While the instruments involved aren't that unusual (guitars, violins, bass, flute, clarinet, saxophone, vibraphone, drums, electronics)...the way the pieces are put together is decidedly odd and foreign. Bevel is a solo project created by Chicago's Via Nuon who was previously in the bands Drunk and Manishevitz. Phoenician Terrane is a collection of soft, moody, pensive, and peculiar pieces that don't follow traditional formulas and patterns. Unlike many new artists who try extremely hard to sound unique and different, however, Nuon seems to just be following his own individual internal drive. Some of these segments come across sounding like a small string quartet...other pieces are more abstract...while occasionally the music sounds almost normal. We really like Nuon's voice. Instead of sounding perfect, his voice seems somewhat fragile and at times slightly unpracticed and uncertain. This is one of those cases where you're going to have to hear the music in order to draw your own conclusions. We find some of these tracks puzzling...while others are beautiful and strangely perplexing. Interesting stuff. (Rating: 5)
As I sat and read the biography that accompanies Bevel's Phoenician Terrane LP, I am taken away by the beautiful sense of freedom and life that's delivered in their description. The words themselves take you on a journey to lands near and far and they delicately portray the story of the songs.
I wasn't disappointed either as, when I put the CD in, my mind emptied as the room filled up with the gentle notes of soft flute and violin. Quite simply, I was immediately swept up into the colourful whirlwind of sweet day dreaming and before I knew it, I was on track 4! My journey which started upon the highest mountain breathing in the fresh crisp air had suddenly emerged into a bristling gallery of sky-scraping trees. I also explored a bustling market where spices and herbs crowded my nose and the colours of silk shone brightly in my eyes.
This album is mainly instrumental, however Via Nuon does appear every so often adding a sadness to the music with his mystical vocal. These two contrasts twist the songs into a new dimension. When they are working together, misty clouds approach and unsettle the listener, obscuring their sight and slowing down their reactions. It's like a spiritual force that takes control of the dream and leads you down a unnerving path of bends and obstacles, but teases you by allowing your destination to still be in sight.
This LP is a refreshing listen, and wherever your journey takes you, you are sure to feel a bit more enlightened afterwards.
Written By: Beckie A (815 - ) View The Mag Team
Bevel - Phoenician Terrane
Psych-folk veteran Via Nuon proves once again that it is possible, in that genre over-stuffed with wannabes and frauds, to make stunning personal music, uncompromising in its experimentation and sense of play, both joyful and ominous at once. “Phoenician Terrane” finds Nuon using a basic framework of guitar, piano and voice, with the addition of reeds, drums and electronics to deepen the groove; odd time signatures or jarring musical/lyric collisions are not for show, or to justify the quirkiness of the artist. They are the artist, and his vision reflects none but his.
Melancholy and orchestral, breezy and ambient; Nuon creates moods that are believable and memorable. To listen to the openness, in every sense of that word, of tracks like “Low Income Glade” and “(Vice Versa) Protect What You Love” is to know you are in the hands of someone who knows exactly what he is doing. More somber tunes like “Balustrada” and “The Purchase” somehow fit as well; the range of emotion rings true because the artist has gained your trust.
This is gorgeous and uncomfortable music; nothing especially new or daring, but powerful through Nuon’s taking chances with various sounds and adding his own voice to them. 8/10 -- Mike Wood (14 November, 2007)
"PSYCHE VAN HET FOLK"
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Contraphonic Rec.Bevel : Phoenician Terrane (US,2007)****
Bevel is a solo project of Via Nuon, a Chicago based artist who was active before with the groups Drunk and Manishevitz (besides he also participated with Tanakh, Boxhead Ensemble, Edith Frost, and Shannon Wright). Since 2000 he released three solo albums on Jagjaguwar. This well arranged album is his fourth release.
Sometimes some voices give a strange feeling that they almost use a “wrong” tonal and melodic harmony approach compared to the obvious and usual singing style, perhaps because once they started from not being able to sing that well, and then exploited and developed it into a different but convincing technique, or use their voice in a weird theatre-like way (like Dead Western) or deformed way (just like Tom Waits and Bob Dylan). Via Nuon sings with strange moving up and down oscillations like a snake on a rock, then climbing up and down with curiosity, while the arrangements themselves are more solid as a rock, more directly recognizable. These arrangements are very chamber-like, with violin orchestrations (by Karl Runge and Laraine Kaiser), combined with all kinds of keyboards (with interesting overtones), and different guitars (additionally added by Michael Krassner and Tim Rutilli) some electric and upright bass (Ryan Kennedy) sparse percussion (Gerald Dowd), with bits of flute, clarinet or sax (Nate Lepine), or vibraphone (Jason Adasciewicz). On a track like “A Forest Ends the special colours of Via’s voice could slightly be compared to Ian Curtis voice from Joy Division (especially on this track). With each listen the whole thing captures more attention from me, so that a voice like “Balustrada” becomes almost like a favourite for this strangeness. The sweetest and most classically-melodically driven arrangements I think can be found on the last track, “Quiet Resort II” (orchestrations, acoustic guitars, flute).
A special album, beautifully worked out to perfection.