Exposé Online banner

Phall Fatale — Moonlit Bang Bang
(Slowfoot SLOCD028, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-04-01

Moonlit Bang Bang Cover art

In the category of groups with unusual instrumentation, Phall Fatale deserves special mention. There’s a drummer (Fredy Studer), two singers who contribute keyboards and electronics (Joana Aderi and Joy Frempong), and two acoustic bassists (John Edwards and Daniel Sailer). They’re quite the international crew as well, representing Switzerland, Germany, and England. Their music is unique as well, with qualities of pop, jazz, electronic, and avant-garde all mixed up together. At first hearing, the two women’s voices are the attention-grabber. Aderi and Frempong sometimes work together in tight harmonies, sometimes in contrasting parts, sometimes nearly spoken, sometimes flying off on fancies of odd noises, sometimes processed into ominous demonic tones. Studer’s drumming is propulsive in spite of avoiding typical patterns much of the time, taking inspiration from African percussion and electronic dance music. The two bassists work together in a variety of ways: one will be playing bowed lines while the other plucks rhythmically; one will be playing an insistent fuzz riff while the other punctuates with clean tones; and so on. The vocals are a bit reminiscent of Zap Mama, with a little Pixel as well, and as soon as you think you’ve got them figured out, they throw something new at you. “Crocodile” is probably my favorite track, with fuzz bass and distorted vocals at the start, then chanted lyrics full of amusing turns of phrase; the chorus ramps up the electronic weirdness, then there’s a passage with one bowed bass and one pizzicato. About halfway through, all sorts of strange electronic noises bounce around while the drums and fuzz bass maintain a nasty groove. Yet in spite of all the oddness, it’s a catchy tune, a wonderful example of how interesting a song can be when not constrained by the formulas of current pop. Every one of the album’s twelve tracks has its own joys and quirks, even the moody “Tree House,” with somber piano tones and spooky atmosphere. Listeners who long for something out of the ordinary, who like a catchy tune but find pop music too predictable, who crave a little adventurousness, should take a look at Moonlit Bang Bang. In a time when we have scientific evidence that pop music is getting less interesting, Phall Fatale is a welcome antidote.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Phall Fatale

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Roach - Destination Beyond, Afterlight, Immersion: Four – Steve Roach released these three CDs as an individually numbered boxed set or as separate items. As with any minimalist music, you are not on the fence: as you either love it or loathe it. All three...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues