Reviews Valina A Tempo! A Tempo!


A Tempo! A Tempo!

For a band whose hyperbolic press sheet claims they’ve played 75,854 shows in their eleven year history (that’s only 18.88 per day by my count) you’d think I would have seen them a few times already, perhaps in my living room or local bowling alley. I have no idea how many of those shows have brought the Austrian band to North America, though. A glance at MySpace tells me were in St. Paul two weeks ago...

The band’s third release, A Tempo! A Tempo! was recorded by Electrical Audio master Steve Albini, and their RIYL claims Fugazi, Shellac, Battles, and The Pixies. All of this alone makes Valina enticing, but does the music hold up?

The record kicks off with a drum-heavy post-punk sort of thing, with guitar carefully layered over the bass and a rhythm section that’s very prominent. It’s a decent enough starter and representative of the band’s approach, but it’s the second song, “Bellydancer,” that really gets things underway. It follows the mathy post-punk genre-mash, but Anatol Bogendorfer’s vocals take on a singsong, almost new-wave approach that really makes the track stick out. He does a very good job of keeping up with the technical shifts in the music. For the most part, Bogendorfer’s singing is heavily influenced by 1980's Touch & Go's not quite singing, but not chanting or shouting either, with a prominent delivery that sometimes wavers along with the fluctuating music. There are very few backing vocals.

I was surprised to see that this is a three-piece band, and the complexity they manage without the luxury of a second guitar is impressive. “Idiom’s Palace” is an example where the band sounds a lot like Shellac, but with a less abrasive, angry style. Battles comes to mind a few times, such as the intro to “Phantom of my Longest Day,” before two minutes in the song shifts toward sounding like Shellac with a different singer around the two-minute mark. Mix Battles’ time changes and Shellac’s soft/loud dynamics and, in a nutshell, you’ve got Valina. Fans of either should like this band, though Valina is more melodic and accessible in approach.

There’s only one real stinker on the record. With its slow horns and spoken word vocals, “Dogged” sounds like a soft jazz, art rock hybrid with more pretention than any redeeming qualities. Why it’s the lone song on their MySpace is beyond me.

After listening to A Tempo! A Tempo repeatedly, I’m ready for them to come play show 75,855 in my town.

8.4 / 10Loren
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8.4 / 10

8.4 / 10

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