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Album Review

Besides introducing keyboardist Al Comet and thus stabilizing the band lineup for the next decade, Play Kurt Weill is an intriguing curiosity few other bands could easily pull off. As part of an annual Swiss musical festival celebrating specific musicians each year, the Young Gods were invited to perform renditions of numbers by the noted German composer and writer of theatrical musical standards from The Threepenny Opera to "September Song." The subsequent album is a revelation; while rockers from Bobby Darin to Lou Reed and on had tried their hand at the Weill songbook, the Young Gods embraced the avant-garde bent of Weill's music with a passion. "Prologue" reworks the sly opening narration to Threepenny Opera in the context of a rock concert, audience screams and all, and from there on in, it's Weill as you've not quite heard him before, ditching solo cabaret revivalism for sample-based reinvention. "Mackie Messer" launches guitar snarls and rips all over the place, "Speak Low" takes on distinctly ominous undertones, "Seerauber Jenny" cheekily blends a more straightforward oompah approach with discordant woodwind samples, background string loops, and huge drum blasts. Treichler sounds throughout like he's having the time of his life; on "Alabama Song," memories of the Doors' fair enough take are erased by his sinuous whisper and the band's switch between calm and noise. As for the amazing album-ender "September Song," delivered by Treichler with restrained passion over a stripped-down wash of ocean waves and ghostly samples floating in and out of the mix, Bing Crosby this ain't.

Biography

Formed: 1985 in Geneva, Switzerland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Swiss electro-noise terrorists the Young Gods traced their origins back to 1982, when Geneva-based frontman Franz Treichler, increasingly bored with his then-current new wave band, began experimenting with a small sampler. Influenced as well by the visceral power of punk and the grand drama of classical music, he began creating abrasive guitar and drum loops, and with sampler Cesare Pizzi and percussionist Frank Bagnoud, founded the Young Gods in 1985; named in an honor of a Swans composition, the...
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