Known previously for electronic excursions into the experimental ether, Austrian duo Thilges has taken a decidedly organic turn on latest album La Double Absence. Looking to the east for inspiration and instrumentation, they recruited Afghan vocalist Zohreh Jooya and oudist Asim Al-Chalabi to fill out their glitch-heavy electronic compositions, and together, the collective came up with a lovely, reflective little slab of media that sounds rather unlike anything the electronic underground has offered in some time. The oud, particularly, plays a rather heavy role in the proceedings, actually forming the basis for many of the compositions as Thilges primaries Gammon and Nik Hummer play around it, rather than vice versa. The result is a lovely approximation of Persian and Afghan songcraft, with surprisingly subtle bits of electronics mixed in to add an effectively alien element to it all. The star of the show, however, is (perhaps predictably) Jooya, whose often multi-tracked, always eerily calm vocals offer a vague sense of mysticism to their backdrop; “Mehraban Bash” and “Völkische” (on which Jooya contributed lyrics) would be pleasant little compositions without her influence, but they’re no less than sublime with her surprisingly catchy vocal lines. Thilges’ new approach may not highlight their own production skills, but their surprisingly humble decision to take a backseat to the talents of their guests on La Double Absence has paid off in spades.
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