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Phi: For the Love of Ghosts

The 2011 debut album from Austria's self-described post-prog band Phi sounds more like progressively inclined alternative rock, and King Crimson, Tool and Porcupine Tree references are obvious. Thick power chords, dense and often angular arrangements and deep, subdued vocals collide in dark corners, while atmospheric keyboards which disappeared on Phi's subsequent release, The Deflowering of Reality EP add layers of depth. The melodies on For the Love of Ghosts could be stronger, as could singer/guitarist Markus Bratusa's emotional connection to these seven songs. But his detached delivery (which at times vaguely echoes that of a mournful Bruce Springsteen) allows listeners to focus more on the consistent musicianship on display here.

Overall, this is an engaging debut from a band whose sound would quickly change and not always for the better with the departure of keyboardist Christoph W. Pirker.

Track Listing:
1) The Surgical Cut, Parts 2-4
2) Departure
3) Desire
4) Wintersong
5) The Illusion (Death is Dead)
6) The Surgical Cut, Part 1
7) Epilogue: For the Love of Ghosts

Added: July 22nd 2012
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Phi Website
Hits: 2379
Language: english

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Phi: For the Love of Ghosts
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-07-21 19:09:14
My Score:

This 2011 debut from Austria's Phi, found the band melding together commercialised stoner tendencies to a more progressive outlook. Causing everything from King Crimson to Masters Of Reality and even Queens Of The Stone Age to flash past in a claustrophobic, mean and moody blur. The overall feeling is oppressive and bleak with the likes of gritty opener "The Surgical Cuts Parts 2-4" and more bombastic "The Surgical Cuts Part 1" adding harder edged riffs and less stretched out themes to the mix. The rest of For The Love Of Ghosts is happy, too happy, to float along on a mixture of repeated riffs and meandering vocals which whilst enjoyable and engaging, seldom seem to actually go anywhere. Something which can cause this debut to feel longer than the nearly fifty minutes that it is.

Singer Markus Bratusa has a sweet, fragile style, which with a little more character and seductive persuasion, could be likened to Chris Goss (Masters Of Reality). However as it is, with those traits currently lacking, he can at times get a little lost in the tumbling riffs and the ever busy and impressive percussion courtesy of Nick Koch. Across the seven songs the beats never quite sit still, with cymbals sploshing and drums whumping numerous times a second, bringing the pulse of the songs right to the forefront. Something the repetitive guitar work actually benefits from quite strongly.

A more expansive outlook would certainly help Phi to make a lasting impression, although there are enough signs here to suggest there may be more of concerted interest to follow.

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