The 2nd solo album by Zurich based Verena Von Horsten is anything but a pedestrian listening experience. Horsten’s sheer musicality is off the charts as she performs all the instruments on this recording. Not only that but the theme of the album deals with dissolving the stigmas associated with suicide. In the case of Alien Angel Super Death these themes are explored in an intensely personal manner as Von Horsten copes with the suicide of her brother Hakon.
Hymn opens the album and sets the tone for what is to come. A rumbling drum tom line propels the sound which is accentuated with stabbing keyboard lines and Von Horsten’s distinctive vocalizations (Think PJ Harvey meets Shirley Manson). Track 2 All About is much more subdued than the lead off track. The throbbing bass lines lurk menacingly beneath the vocals while keyboard lines steadily crescendo. The lyric “you know, it’s all about life” likely refer to the intense human experience related to Von Horsten’s loss.
Sweet Lullabye is driven by a jagged rhythm and utilizes an effective vocal approach to compliment the sounds. The singing is multi layered and is carefully placed in the track to be the point of focus during points where drums have stopped. The Monster is more stripped down with a pretty keyboard line quietly propelling the sound which Verena Von Horsten wisely uses to show off her impressive singing chops. In addition, the multi layered vocal effects utilized on this track achieve great effect.
Fire is arguably the most accessible track Alien Angel Super Death and a wise choice for a single. As you can see in the video above, not only is the track catchy with it’s lilting melody but it makes a good backdrop for the unique cinematic approach used in the clip.
The distinctive twang of a sitar is featured in The Love We Have Forever. Verena Von Horston’s whispered vocals compliment the unusual instrumentation while addressing the main themes of the album: loss, love, remembrance, and longing.
The album comes to a close with The Believer. A memorable keyboard line takes center stage alongside complex vocalizations which jump from left to right and back again. The chorus is bolstered by the addition of strings and more keyboards. All in all these sounds culminate in a triumphant closing. Verena Von Horsten has cultivated her sound over many years and has performed at prestigious festivals such as the Montreaux Jazz Festival and opened for avant garde group the Young Gods. While her sound is indebted to the likes of Bjork and Portishead, with Alien Angel Super Death, it’s clear her sound is all her own.
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Fire”, “The Love We Have Forever”, “The Believer”,
For Fans Of: PJ Harvey, Bjork, Portishead.