Death & Vanilla - To Where the Wild Things Are

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2015-05-10

The Swedish duo Marleen Nilsson and Anders Hansson have been marrying library and soundtrack music (a la DeWolfe and The Radiophonic Workshop) with French ye-ye and German Krautrock for about five years. They recently expanded to a trio with the addition of Moog-meister Magnus Bodin, and their second full-length (named after Maurice Sendak’s children’s book about monsters and mayhem) finds them stepping out of their gothic meanderings and exploring their love of the kind of European soundtracks that typically featured in Dario Argento’s giallo films.

The album erupts into a heart-pumping swatch of techno danceteria via the tingly, tinkly ‘Necessary Distortions’, which recalls Belgian porn-techno pioneers Lords of Acid. It’s stretched a tad thin and redundant at six-and-a-hlaf minutes, but it prepares you for the listening experience to follow. Nilsson can make the phone book sound sexy and her harmonic cooing with Hansson on ‘The Optic Nerve’ hit all the right nerves in my personal fascination with the collaborations between Ennio Morricone and Edda Dell’Orso (and Angelo Badalamenti and Julee Cruise).

‘California Owls’ floats on fuzzy cumulous clouds of cotton candy in the vein of several acts on the beloved Elefant label (The Yearning, The Primitives, The School, The Magic Theatre), but the playful Moog burps and bleats add a giddiness that keeps things from getting too serious. The band’s love of soundtrack music is evident on the dreamy ‘Time Travel’, which sounds like it belongs in one of those muslin-gauzed French Riviera travelogue films full of gorgeous tanned bodies and long blonde hair flowing out of convertibles cruising the Grand Corniche.

By now you’ve caught the floorplan for these dreamy, swirling, occasionally hallucinogenic treats, full of goosepimply vocals and twinkling electronics, perfect for a romantic cuddle-up. 

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