Classical, Industrial

Feline & Strange- “Out” Review

Feline & Strange are a delightfully odd proposition. A duo comprised of Feline Lang and Christoph Klemke, both of whom are German musicians with their fingers in many creative pies ranging from opera to punk drumming, the sound of Feline & Strange is an off-kilter fusion of theatrical vocals; cabaret-inspired balladry; churning, quasi-industrial cello and Depeche Mode-esque electronic pulses. Oh, and the band are playing aliens reborn in human bodies on Earth who have warmed to the planet and oppose its invasion.

This bizarre synthesis is most adroitly realised on single “No Life On Mars”, a wonderfully ominous dirge driven by Lang’s clear, crystalline vocals and the glugging electronic throbs of the music. Part of the appeal of the album is wondering who on earth the band are going to sound like next—the oompah madness of “Berlin’s a Bitch” recalls the vaudeville weirdness of the Cardiacs and Feline & Strange unexpectedly wake up one day as Muse on the distorted synth rampage of “Little Boxes”. Kate Bush hovers above the highly-strung piano melodrama of “How Much”, but the greatest strength of “Out” is that Feline & Strange rarely sound like anyone other than themselves.

The musical range of the band mean that they can even pull off songs like “Modern Conversation”, which sounds like David Byrne marshalling stormtroopers in a gurgling rave. “No matter how empty your purse, spend,” bawls Lang, “No matter how deep your love, cheat”. However, this gleeful, nihilistic misanthropy is subverted by the understated closer “The Train”, which ironically uses the characterisation of the band as aliens to evoke a quietly human alienation: carriages “full of people I don’t know, heading nowhere”. The album’s glum fade-out over the repetition of the line “And the train goes on” deepens this sense of detachment; although “it’s been a long voyage for any of our kind”, technology and time roll on impassively and unstoppably.

It’s a surprisingly restrained conclusion for an album that has previously incorporated the tawdry Broadway glamour of “And If The World Would End Tonight” or the swaying subterranean grooves of “City By The Sea”. However, within the confines of the fantasy world they have established aesthetically Feline & Strange are effectively free to do whatever they want, provided it isn’t boring. Something close to a manifesto is casually tossed into the stumbling, Tom Waits-esque blues of “Hole In The Ground”, which is enlivened by the remarkable birdsong trills of Lang’s voice. “I’m happy as I am,” she declares, ”I don’t want to be vanilla”. Me neither. CO


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