b.z. humdrum [ Home / Writing Samples / Album Reviews /] Ray Gun Magazine
Album Review
(for Raygun magazine, 1999)

Motormouth Records

You hear of a band made up of three guys with French-sounding names, and you instantly want to dismiss it as pompous Euro-trash. But then you force yourself to be open-minded, try to remember that they are actually Swiss and not French, and the next thing you know you’re even enjoying the music. Enter the world of Velma, the mesmerizing, ambient musical arrangements of the European trio’s second release. The group mixes together modern electro-pop with a more atmospheric and circular sound--as the album’s title, Cyclique, implies. Their latest effort wanders from a truly intelligent and rhythmic musical experience, to the bizarre minimalism of three-note repetitions. "Vitamine," the opening track, proves that they have the ability to create transcendent ambient and tonal music simultaneously. It is at once melodic and atmospheric, an opening effort which should set the standard for the rest of the album. But, except for a couple of other stand-out tracks--notably the final song, "Masquerade" --their effort to be hypnotic often borders on the plainly (and very French) annoying. Cyclique is exciting, but heavily eccentric, and to enjoy it requires more patience than the average listener will want to invest. The modern literati or otherwise inclined, however, may want to check out one of the many forthcoming European concerts or shows. The musical performance will be accompanied by video installations, large, quivering paper screens, and other mechanical constructions that should put a more rigid face on Velma’s singular style. Although the music is what really matters in the end, Cyclique can only benefit from some sort of visual aide. Maybe sometimes it is hard to see into the mind of geniuses. Sometimes, though, it is just as hard to see into the mind of the Swiss.