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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Benny Omerzell / Martin Siewert / Lukas König - Battleship Euphoria (Cracked Anegg/Handsemmel Records, 2017) ****

By Eyal Hareuveni

The Austrian trio Battleship Euphoria is an imaginary ship that lost its destination in faraway, electric-stormy waters but is in no rush to recalibrate its course towards safe, steady shores anytime soon. This ship journey began when the head of Handsemmel Records, shipowner Klaus Nüchtern enlisted keyboarder Benny Omerzell (who is also a visual artist and animator), known from the local electric jazz quartet Kompost 3, for a new adventure. Omerzell took on board his comrade from Kompost 3, drummer and synth player Lukas König, and guitarist and electronics player Martin Siewert, known from the avant-electronics-improv trio Radian, thinking that the trio may smuggle some futuristic disco sounds into the Battleship Euphoria youth club.

As often happens with such ambitious journeys, Battleship Euphoria soon veered far from its original scheme. It happened immediately as the three musicians entered into the Viennese garrison7 studio, and became clearer much later when Siewert did the final mix. Siewert dismantled, milled, hardened, riveted and welded the intense, improvised sessions into a classic vinyl album format, with imaginary A and B sides.

Side A Battleship Euphoria begins without a known destination, but with titles that suggest rough Scandinavian coastal landscapes. “Ømersåll, Kong, Sieværd”, a transformation of the trio surnames into Nordic spelling, is a cantankerous, bombastic-prog piece that experiments with welding Keith Emerson-like brutal organ attacks with Sonny Sharrock-sounding intense electric guitar onslaughts. The following “Brosme, brosme” changes course into quieter waters, reaching for more abstract, minimalist terrains. This post-rock piece sound as a variation on the disciplined, almost mechanical abstraction of invented sounds of Radian, slowly charging the mysterious atmosphere with weirder and noisier sounds until Battleship Euphoria almost drown in this elusive waters. The last piece on this side, “Kattegat” returns to heavy-prog meets acrobatic fusion territories, layered with spacey keyboards and driving groove, but it always slides off-track to faraway noisy, electronic stratospheres.

Side B features the 20-minutes “Skagerrak”, a dark and psychedelic flow into turbulent storm. Battleship Euphoria slowly approaches the eye of the storm, relying on the already established, tight interplay and its genre-defying, experimental language that enable the trio to confront these hurricane-affected waters. Battleship Euphoria sounds now as if finally found its organic course and true destination, navigating in this thunderous scenery with imaginative, commanding intensity, embracing any sudden change in color, pulse or state of mind.

Wishing for more journeys into such unchartered sonic territories with Battleship Euphoria.