PHI is an Austrian power trio that has already recorded several album since their debut For The Love Of Ghosts (see review) in 2011. For some reason I was able to miss all of them, so the first songs I heard are the ones on this album. A very special one that is, a live recording highlighting the best, I hope, songs from their previous albums and as a bonus the whole concert was filmed and put on a DVD. PHI consists of vocalist and guitarist Markus Bratusa, bass player Arthur Darhofer-Demár and drummer Gabe Cresnar. The live recording took place in a small sweaty venue, with the atmosphere of a compact club that could capture the band's live sound in the best possible way.
On Waves Over Vienna, PHI focusses on compositions of their previous album, Now The Waves Of Sound Remain (2014, see review), the band's debut for the GAOM label, but also reaching back to the beginning of their musical career, not forgetting where they came from. After a short intro PHI impresses me with Cashflow Prayer Answering Machine; a strong composition from their second full album. The combination of progressive art rock and alternative rock is catchy and the distinguished vocals of Markus Bratusa are quite attractive. After this fine opening a number of songs of their last album are played and to be fair I guess these songs and the interesting way they are performed will be the reason to get my hands on that album. All the songs are performed with programmed keyboards and sounds, so the live sound of PHI sounds very rich and full. Besides the aforementioned influences, parts of post rock are embedded into PHI's music, especially when you listen to Revolution By Design; a good example of how things work together. Another very strong point of this band are the fine guitar riffs; repeating in post rock style, but accessible and catchy at the same time. A song that has to be mentioned is the smooth starting Wintersong; here we have just an electric guitar and vocals, which sounds pretty impressive in my ears. When bass player Arthur adds a second voice, goosebumps appear. A fine bluesy solo takes this one to the end. Exile is also a song you don't want to miss; just a great song captured during an impressive show. Towards the end we are treated by the previous album's title track Now The Waves Of Sound Remain, a thirteen minute epic song and the final The Beginning Of The End, perhaps the band's most energetic song, less progressive, but incredibly powerful.
When you play the DVD, you will notice how hard it was to capture this album in the small venue and I guess the whole video thing was based on a low budget. Nevertheless the recording shows how PHI acts live and also shows the enthusiastic way they perform. Sometimes the camera shots come from a small camera on top of Markus' microphone stand, other times from a guy who is on the side of the stage. Too bad he can be seen most of the time when we get an overview of the stage. But this is absolutely no reason not to purchase this fine album. Waves Over Vienna is a perfect document of a band performing live.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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