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Other - Feel No Other
CD Album 2014 | Silber 152
12 tracks, 34 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download)
: Press Release
: Digital Booklet
my brother's guns and knives
march towards the west
winter is all over you
la fiance de l'eau
even the blue
march towards the east
Immediately after listening to the first track of their eponymous album, you understand that Feel No Other are excellent songwriters. “Pan’s Shadow” lasts for just 50 seconds and it features only vocals and a sampled cuckoo clock, but in this little time they’re able to develop an articulated melody and to introduce the anxious verve of the record in a climax of tension. The vocal line seems to be composed for a much more complex musical score, that is absent but nonetheless perceivable, as it happens when listening to minimalists such as Scott Walker and David Sylvian.
There are four more of these short episodes in the album, lasting one minute or a little more, and in each of them the duo demonstrates its excellent ability to be essential and direct (the martial “March Towards the East” sounds like an instrumental by Dead Can Dance, while “Synoyi Edohi” is a curious blend of art-pop and industrial). It’s probably the alchemy between the two elements of the band that gives such a good result. Claudia Gregory’s singing and songwriting has a vast background, from Americana and Country (“March Towards the West”) to French (“La FiancÚ de l’Eau”) and Central-European folk music (“Gunslinger”), while Brian Lea McKenzie is a master of Badalamentian movie soundtrack synthesis. These two aspects may appear to be in conflict, but instead the result is surprisingly smooth and unusual.
In many occasions the mix of acoustic instrumentation (including bluegrass mandolins and banjos) and cinematic synths works perfectly, creating epic moments such as “Altavilla Milicia” or smart cabaret songs like “Winter is All Over You”. The technical skills of the two are also worth mentioning: in the middle of “Winter is All Over You” Claudia’s distinctive voice soars in an enchanting bridge where she creates structured layers of vocal tracks. On the other hand, the production is quite original: we’re used to hearing 80s style analog leads and basses until boredom, instead here in most the cases the sounds seem to date to the 90s and early digital composition (the brass theme of “Altavilla Milicia”, the string pads of “Eclipse”). These sounds may seem cheap and outdated, instead they help give a unique feel to the album. “Feel No Other” sounds like the soundtrack of a good old movie: evocative and powerful, it strikes straight to the heart and I really hope to hear more of their weird and elegant tunes in the future.
~ Santa Sangre
Brian Lea McKenzie, who’s best known for his work in Electric Bird Noise, has a number of various musical projects including Feel No Other, a collaboration with Claudia Gregory of Claudia Versus the Queen of Hearts and Exhaust the Fox. The project started in 2009 when McKenzie started composing instrumental material that he felt needed strong female vocals; However, it took about two years for things to jibe but the sound you hear off “winter is all over you,” the first single off their self-titled debut manages to sound simultaneously cinematic and intimate, contemporary and yet old-fashioned — at it’s heart, it’s part David Lynch soundtrack and Joan Baez-era folk song, as the song has a haunting, unsettling beauty.
~ William Ruben Helms, The Joy of Violent Movement
A most enjoyable release of something that is vaguely labelled as "pop" by these headquarters.
~ Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
US project FEEL NO OTHER is the name given the partnership of vocalist Claudia Gregory and composer and instrumentalist Brian Lea McKenzie. Following an initial EP in 2013 they made their debut with a self-titled album in 2014, released through US label Silber Records.
Throughout this fairly short album, consisting of 12 compositions clocking in at 34 minutes, a few key elements define this production by acting as a recurring element. The most dominant of these are the distinct vocals of Gregory, a vocalist with a fine control over an emotional and perhaps subtly sulky, emotionally laden voice, a vocalist that can add semi-operatic tendencies at her most intense but also appears to be just as much at ease in more gentle territories. And always with an emotionally laden tinge to her delivery. The second key element is the use of one or more instruments similar to banjo and mandolin (perhaps just a banjo?) that adds a rural, distinctly US sound on some occasions, a more generic Mediterranean on others, but especially when given leeway for lengthier escapades actually reminds me of Greek folk music more than anything else. There’s also a distinct likeness to the soundtracks of spaghetti westerns due to this instrument and how it is employed, and I’ll assume that this latter effect is what was targeted here.
Supplementing these key details we have acoustic guitars, emulated instruments of various kinds, and a notable array of different keyboard textures. The latter by way of careful underlying foundation drones and delicate effects just as much as with a dramatic, surging or otherwise dominant presence, often giving these compositions a distinct soundtrack character. That the drums has a tendency to be fairly dramatic as well adds a certain emphasis to this. When that is said, when trying to decompose the elements as I listen to the songs, many of them give me the impression that they really are singer/songwriter creations at heart, but ones that here have been developed and fleshed out into more sophisticated entities.
Atmospheric laden music with a strong soundtrack feel is the chosen turf for “Feel No Other” on their debut album, music dominated by characteristic and high quality female lead vocals and a plucked string instrument as the recurring feature, of the kind that should make fans of old spaghetti western movies the ones to be regarded as a key audience presumably and then especially those amongst them with a taste for dramatic dream-laden music that would appear to have a foundation in singer/songwriter material.
~ Olav Bjornsen, House of Prog
Feel No Other is a disorientating experience. Expanding into literally every possible genre it can get its hands on Feel No Other is an adventurous album indeed. Influences are nearly impossible to pinpoint. With such a wide range of styles Feel No Other is a unique group. A few features help to tie much of the pieces together. Vocals bring the pieces together serving as one of the consistent elements on the tracks helping to give the pieces a sense of narrative.
Eclectic pop introduces “my brother's guns and knives”. With a consistent beat and multiples synthesizers the song manages to impart a sense of dread. Taking a similar approach with completely different instruments is “winter is all over you” which uses a folksier template. Incredibly organic it is one of the highlights of the piece. Such an atmosphere continues on the mellow “altavilla milicia”. Using a strange spaghetti western style on the aptly named “gunslinger” Feel No Other allows the sound to spread out a bit relying on texture rather than traditional melody. “eclipse” is an electronic interlude to help clear the palette for the album’s next turn towards more ambient pieces.
The best piece on the album comes right before the ending. “even the blue” brings together the alluded to previous genre. Nearly theatrical in execution it highlights the power of the singer’s voice. Finishing the album off is the whimsical “toy soldiers”. Feel No Other is a dramatic introduction into an emotionally charged world.
~ Beach Sloth
Feel No Other is a project combining the electronic productions of one Brian Lea Mackenzie (Electric Bird Noise) with the muscular voice of Claudia Gregory (Exhaust the Fox, Claudia Versus the Queen of Hearts). The result is an album of somewhat uncharacteristically electronic americana/folk rock. Overall, this effect is more one of production than of voice. The usual instrumentation - guitar, piano etc. - is enlisted throughout, without hesitation. However, imposing compression lends a thickness to the sound, voluminous but rigidly full, with little breathing space. On the beatless 'Eclipse', for instance, Gregory's lyrics punch tangibly into the bed of strings courtesy of side-chaining. Elsewhere, overdriven thumps on 'Gunslinger' blast through the rest of the composition, managing quite well to illustrate the song's title. These methods might seem to cause a bothersome wrestle of frequencies, but along with an EQ heavily favouring the upper-mids they certainly associate the album with 'electronic' styles, even with the overall texture feeling quite lo-fi. Moreover, they give the whole thing a kind of brash, noisy urgency.
'My Brother's Guns and Knives' assumes the role of a stirring pop lead, tasked with setting the album's momentum. Unbridled and catchy, theatrically it trudges beneath Gregory's glum vibrato along a rousing progression punctuated by a wilting synth solo. This style is never quite revisited; the song favours looping hooks over outright balladry. On the other hand, the rest of the album seems to opt the other way, leaning between outbursts and quieter passages.
Balladry, of course, is mainly what fights the 'americana' corner. On 'Winter is All Over You', a trickling motif on banjo and piano dances beneath a familiar C-G#-F-G chord sequence. Meanwhile, Gregory's lyrics seem to follow the tradition of lacing tales with emotive, hyperbolic and slightly perplexing imagery ("Saw your mother at the department store / She looked innocent like a stillborn / But all I could think about was the sting"). On 'La fiance de l'eau', she sings in French, lending a further Continental theatricality to the whole thing. It's great.
~ Edward Trethowan, Chain D.L.K.
This is a nice change of pace – smooth sailing ambient/drone-flicker shoe-gaze w/a touch of melancholy-baby to it.
Feel No Other is a band from the Silber Media family that’s been around since 2009, when Brian Lea McKenzie (late of Electric Bird Noise) started composing some instrumental music in his spare time, just sort of sketching out a sound that he enjoyed. He soon realized, however, that, to make this music of his complete, he needed vocals. Specifically, strong, female vocals. At first McKenzie got together with Claudia Gregory, who sang in the bands Exhaust the Fox and Claudia vs. the Queen of Hearts. It was during this period that the two, after having met and decided that they enjoyed each other’s style that they began to play some shows together, incorporating these new songs of Brian’s. But it wasn’t until 2011 that the “stars aligned” and things soon worked out and they ended up working together on a more permanent scale that Feel No Other was born.
Claudia Gregory has a background in “Americana”, while Brian has a big interest in things cinematic as well as creating dreamy, cinematic soundscapes. The two, quite nicely, complement each other and the architectural style which that envelops is one of a grandeur that swells as one gets further into the album. It may seem, at first, that “Americana” and Cinematic dreamscapes are somewhat disconnected, but If you want a good example of the marriage between Americana storytelling and cinematic soundscapes, a great example that fits right in is David Lynch. He is an archetypal American. If you’ve ever heard him speak, you’ll notice a sort of flattened twang to his voice that is almost tuneful, being born in Missoula, Montana. Two well-known classics of Lynch’s that explain what I’m getting at are: Blue Velvet, which takes place in “Anytown, USA” and, while the action and the depraved world that the characters Kyle McLachlan who plays Jeffrey Beaumont and Laura Dern, his soon-to-be girlfriend (when Issabella Rossellini isn’t getting in the way!) play are typical American teenagers – squeaky clean, curious and, Beaumont, at least, is determined to break out of this sheltered existence and dig deep and explore what lies beneath the surface, after finding an ear on his way home from school in one of the film’s first scenes. The whole film can be summed up as Lynch’s way of showing the underbelly of “white-picket-fence” America; the corruption of the “American Dream”, if you will. And this is how the “Americana” of Gregory and the Cinematic head of McKenzie’s come together. Another example of how Lynch pairs these two quite (seemingly) effortlessly, is in Lynch’s one and only foray into television: Twin Peaks, which was a breathtakingly beautiful series about another small town. One set in the Pacific Northwest. The splendor and everyday America that shows on the exterior of this town and the people in it belie much darker things that are happening inside the quaint homes, not only the jarring occurrence of the murder of Laura Palmer, but all the seedy goings-on that we, as viewers, come to see as how the people here really live and, by extension, I think, Lynch shows that appearances aren’t everything – which is a simple enough aphorism, but in this case the appearances mask quite a slew of deep, dark secrets and terrors.
Getting back to Feel No Other and Feel No Other, Ms. Gregory has a voice that really builds throughout the album. She has a quite powerful and beautiful voice. On the song “Altavilla Milicia” (sounds like something about a band of guerillas living in a shack up in the mountains), she whips out this almost operatic sound that really opens things up, as if her wide ranging vocals are evoking a panoramic vista. “Eclipse” is another serene, but sedate tune that has a bit of the stage to it – as if she’s belting out a solo in a surrealistic play or the soundtrack to a like movie. It’s about nighttime, stars, the night sky, and the goings-on below. Too bad it’s only 2:51. There is a keyboard on the song as a background, that’s it, just the synth. It’s eerily beauty is quite alluring. The next tune, “la fiance de l’eau” (the fiance of water) is sung in French. It has a ringing mandolin-type string instrument in it, as well as a regular acoustic guitar. No drums or electronics. It seems here that as one gets deeper into this album, the better it gets.
This partnership of theirs is a great match. From however different backgrounds they may come, they have one symbiosis that shines brightly and that is they both have a commitment to the perfect atmosphere, musically speaking. This could easily be a soundtrack to a road trip through the highways and byways of Middle America, or it could be a paean to the great films of the past 60 years that reflect, in a panoramic, ultra-modernist, magnified view of the grandeur in the surrounding beauty that is home to an almost infinite amount of personalities, quirks, truths, myths and legends.
Whatever the real meaning, it almost doesn’t matter, when, while listening to it for yourself, you’re able to be transported to distant, serene plateaux that sometimes sparkle with dizzying lights, other times makes you want to cry, it’s so sad but simultaneously beautiful.
The end of Feel No Other is made up of two, minute-long songs that start to lead you back to your own place but at the same time, embed memories of this incredibly buoyant album. It’s a bit different from the typical noise/drone/experimental craft that Silber Music is known for, but they do seem to know a gem when they come across one, which is why Feel No Other, with their shoe-gazing, nocturnal images and dreamy, empty film-noir streets, fits in quite well.
~ Kent Manthie, Independent Review
Feel No Other was set up by Brian Lea McKenzie. This musician is a rather familiar name in the Silber Records roster. The main project of McKenzie is the totally abstract and heavy experimental like Electric Bird Noise. Feel No Other saw Brian Lea McKenzie joining hands with Claudia Gregory who’s is a female singer with a rather ethereal styled timbre of voice.
I was really wondering how this duo would sound like and I can already tell you I was rather impressed. Forget about the debut-cut, which is totally weird and not that representative for the global work. The upcoming piece sounds like the real off spring inviting the listener to embrace a dreamy kind of ethereal music dominated by the beautiful voice of Claudia Gregory. From a pure musical point of view Feel No Other has less in common with Electric Bird Noise. I here discovered a less experimental work, but a kind of experimental ethereal-pop. Some of the songs are a little bit into ballad style while other parts are into some bombastic arrangements.
McKenzie really surprises with delicate songwriting on “Altavilla Milicia” while “Winter Is All Over You” is another noticeable song. Feel No Other sounds a bit fragile and emotional because of the female vocals. Another interesting cut is the French sung “La Fiance De L’Eau”, which aside from the wrong spelling (it must be ‘fiancÚ’) reveals a very bad French accent although it remains a beautiful song on, which I rather instantly forgive these little errors.
Feel No Other features 12 songs and who knows the debut of a successful new duo. Both protagonists appear to be complementary while Brian Lea McKenzie proves to be much more than simply a sound/noise architect.
Conclusion: Behind the still experimental touch of this composition hides a successful and very creative sound formula mixing different influences with each other while the epicenter sounds pretty ethereal like.
Feel No Other is a duo composed of Brian Lea McKenzie (Electric Bird Noise) and Claudia Gregory (Exhaust the Fox, Claudia Versus Queen of the Hearts), a collaboration composing in the direction of German Expressionist, Avant-Cabaret, and Mannered Angst Grande modalities; that is to say: prog with artier ambiences than the movement is used to. Think of Pere Ubu gone classicalist, the Art Bears after meeting with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and October Project subsequent to a series of seminars on film soundtracking. McKenzie covers the instrumental side of things, drawing from American and vaultingly symphonic sources, while Gregory supplies the auteuristic encantations and solemn grandiosity (no credits are given, in fact NOTHING is supplied, everything mysterious, so it's hard to tell whether or not she wrote the lyrics, though I strongly suspect she did). Not that McKenzie doesn't do his part, and in spades, but she's as front and center as he; thus congrats to the sound engineer in keeping that balance well exemplified.
The dozen songs never flag from post-cinematic ambiences, fulsome and affective, prompting the listener to fantasias of emotive extrapolation always within the provenance of grandeur. One must suspect the baseline resides in McKenzie's work in soundscaping, scenarios oft vast and articulate, while Gregory draws down on the anthropocentric element, tempering the backgrounds from flying off into the heavens, enthralling them to illuminations rather than parsecs of space and Magellanic Cloudweaving. Were Weill to have turned Rosicrucian, had Brecht favored an Arthurian romantic milieu, they would've turned out material like this, caught halfway between despair and exhilaration. Le Faince de L'eau even injects a bit of Edith Piaf, and fans of Peter Hamill (Van der Graaf Generator) should rejoice in Feel No Other combining Pete's theatrical wont with blown-out atmospherics.
~ Mark S Tucker, FAME
Feel No Other is another project of Brian Lea McKenzie (Electric Bird Noise), also featuring Claudia Gregory of Exhaust the Fox and Claudia Versus the Queen of Hearts on vocals. A melodic, song based album, this is more immediately accessible than Electric Bird Noise's latest offering. It shares the cinematic feel of Electric Bird Noise, but whereas EBN has the sound of incidental music, Feel No Other is like theme songs from epic movies. Claudia's powerful singing voice complements perfectly the creative, intelligent and sophisticated music which draws from a variety of styles from synth-pop to Americana whilst retaining a sense of coherence. Gunslinger is a song both powerful and melancholic, set to a combination of Wild West movie soundtrack and industrial percussion. Eclipse has the feel of a torch song, but minus the straightforwardly romantic subject matter, sung in a semi-operatic vocal style over a bleak, sparse synth backdrop. Svnoyi Edohi is off-centre synth-pop with unpredictable changes. A really fantastic debut from Feel No Other, comprising a highly creative form of pop music for people who think outside the box.
~ Kim Harten, Bliss/Aquamarine
Feel No Other = Poeina Suddarth + Woodkid + Enya
Like blind men in a theater, we’re taken through a cinematic story of sounds: Lush vistas of synth and layered orchestrations, courtesy of Brian McKenzie, pillow strong operatic vocals from Claudia Gregory, whose voice is rarely off-pitch and acts as a striking complement to the vast soundscapes. Most tracks have a spaghetti-western influence ripped from a time when western films were dominant in cinema. You can see a silhouette amble toward the sunset as “March Towards the West” and “Gunslinger” fill your ears. Other tracks are haunting (“Even the Blue”), and some are daring (“Synoyi Edohi”), but they all tell a story. In this world, songs and stories are one and the same, and sounds and visions bounce through your head like tumbleweeds on a barren plain. From title screen to closing credits, this album is a film to appreciate.
~ CJ Morgan, Slug Mag
Quello riassunto in Feel No Other Ŕ uno stimolante esperimento di unione tra mondi espressivi diversi. Brian Lea McKenzie (Electric Bird Noise) e la cantante Claudia Gregory hanno incrociato i rispettivi percorsi di cinematico paesaggismo ambientale e tradizione narrativa cantautorale per la prima volta cinque anni fa, ma solo ora, dopo due anni abbondanti di elaborazione, ne sono stati raccolti i frutti sotto forma di un organico album di debutto strutturato in dodici concise tracce.
Sfumate scie di synth, riverberi e vibrazioni cadenzate sostengono l’espressivitÓ teatrale della McKenzie, in canzoni ammantate da un’aura visionaria e vagamente oscura, dissolta soltanto dagli abbracci armonici ariosi e assolati di “Altavilla Milicia” e “March Towards The West”. Il registro prevalente resta comunque quello di una colonna sonora da film di fantamsi, evocata da impulsi ritmici asciutti e da ambientazioni avvolgenti (“Even The Blue”, “Synoyi Edohi”), con la sola “La fiance de l’eau” a discostarsi con le due decadenti atmosfere da romanticismo francese.
Che sia destinato ad avere un seguito o meno, l’esperimento di Feel No Other mostra comunque uno spaccato espressivo interessante, dischiudendo un mondo sonoro nel quale la costruzione di suggestive ambientazioni sonore convive con melodie vocali e persino frammenti acustici, in un’”ethereal” sospesa tra sogni sintetici e spettrale canzoniere wave.
~ Raffaello Russo, music won't save you
Brian Lea McKenzie laat voor het eerst van zich horen in 2008 met zijn drone en ambient project Electric Bird Noise, waar ook dit jaar weer een cd van zal verschijnen. Vanaf 2009 start hij Feel No Other. Hij schrijft meer songgerichte instrumentale songs en vindt dat er een krachtige vrouwelijke stem bij moet. Deze vindt hij in Claudia Gregory (Exhaust The Fox, Claudia Versus The Queen Of Hearts), die zelf meer een Americana achtergrond heeft. Pas in 2011 vallen alle zaken pas op hun plek voor beide, hetgeen tot een drie nummers tellend digitale epee leidt, waarbij elk nummer slechts een minuut lang is. Hierop is toch goed te horen dat ze beide werelden samen hebben gebracht, zowel de cineastische soundscapes als de Americana en pop. Dat laten ze vorig jaar andermaal horen op een volgende digitale release, wat in feite de eerste epee is aangevuld met 2 extra tracks van ook elk een minuut lang.
Het duurt dan maar nog een jaar eer hun gelijknamige debuut eindelijk het licht ziet op het geweldige, onafhankelijke label Silber Records. Hierop staan ook de 5 tracks van hun digitale releases, aangevuld met 7 songs die wel tussen de 3 en 4,5 minuut klokken. Gregory beschikt over een krachtige, maar engelachtige stem die associaties oproept met Bel Canto, Cocteau Twins en The Gathering, die zo in de “heavenly voices”-serie van het voormalige Hyperium label zou passen. De muziek sluit hier ook deels op aan, maar put naast de nostalgische wave ook uit Americana, folk, pop, gothic, dark wave en soundscapes. Met die diverse genres weten ze knap te variŰren, waar ze heerlijk indringende, melancholische songs weten te produceren die goed toegankelijk zijn. Hierbij draagt McKenzie zorg voor uiteenlopende instrumenten, van de diverse elektronica en beats tot akoestische instrumenten. Het doet zowel nostalgisch terugdenken aan vervlogen tijden als vooruitkijken naar een kale toekomst. Vrolijk is het inderdaad niet, maar het weet je wel bij de keel te grijpen. Ze houden daarbij naast de eerder genoemde artiesten het fraaie midden tussen Opium Den, Julee Cruise, Black Rose, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Dead Can Dance, SubtractiveLAD, Nine Inch Nails en R.E.M., gestoken in een productie van David Lynch. Toch moet je de muziek zelf horen om de elementen eruit te filteren, want ze verpakken alles op eigenzinnige wijze. In de ruim 32 minuten muziek die ze hier presenteren weten ze een diepe indruk te maken. Hemels en hartverwarmend met een frisse, droeve ondertoon.
~ Jan Willem Broek, Caleidoscoop
One of the best things I've heard this year. Reminds me a bit of 4AD in the 80s. It's got a Dead Can Dance or Cocteau Twins vibe.
~ Jonny Leather, Mecca Lecca