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Mayfair – Frevel

by Santiago Puyol at 09 July 2019, 6:43 PM

MAYFAIR is an Austrian Experimental Rock band with more than 30 years of career. "Frevel" is their sixth studio album, and the chemistry can be felt in this group of musicians who know each other very well. In a way, MAYFAIR seems to follow on the footsteps of some Experimental Rock, Avant-garde and Prog bands from the 70s and 80s such as CAN and CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, although they incorporate more Alternative Rock sounds, evoking SONIC YOUTH, RADIOHEAD and R.E.M in equal parts. The influences of CAN and R.E.M. can be found in Mario "Le Fate" Prünster's vocal delivery, which sounds halfway between Damo Suzuki's conversational and aggressive style and Michael Stipe's quiet melodic approach. Meanwhile, the rhythm section also brings to mind the masters of Krautrock, while the guitars in the softer songs have a Jangle Pop tone that sounds very much like the R.E.M. of the late 1980s.

Still, MAYFAIR sound like themselves, and they seem to be having a blast in "Frevel". Choosing to record the album live certainly helps capturing their energy. Opener "Evil Christin" is the closest the band comes to a more abrasive and complex sound. With a bluesy approach and a powerful bass line, this song would not be out of place on "Trout Mask Replica" or some other album from CAPTAIN BEEFHEART's more Avant-garde side. The band only sounds that aggressive and hard again on the Stoner-ish "Ungetaktet" and the Hard Rock-tingled "Annelise". Most of "Frevel" is dedicated to catchy mid-tempos with a very Alternative and slightly Psychedelic sound and to soft ballads. Both "Hinter dem leben" and "Himmel in Gefahr" have memorable and melodic guitar lines full of reverb. The former stands on an explosive and catchy chorus, while the latter feels delicate with its soft, sitar-like, arpeggiated guitars.

"Hitze" is perfectly located in the middle of the album. By building tension through the staccato playing of the bass, the constant pressing of muted guitars and closed hi-hat, it is possible to play with ethereal instrumental passages between stanzas. Martin “Medi” Mayer's bass stands out, switching between following the rhythm and counterpointing the main melody. It is probably the catchiest song on the record, with its almost dance-like rhythm. Posing as the title track here, "Atme (Frevel)" turns out to be the longest song on the album at over six minutes. With a very MARILLION-esque guitar pattern and a slow, hypnotic solo, it is one of the most interesting songs. The instrumental jam at the end brings CAN to mind once again, and it shows the excellent chemistry between Mayer and Roland “Jolly” Maehr, being a solid and tight rhythm section.

The use of effects footswitches and little recording tricks make "Frevel" an interesting album. An example of this is the guitar solo in "Der Teufel" that through the use of some effect ends up sounding like a cello, bringing with it Eastern European melodies. Another example is the Space Rock vibe provided by the combination of wah-wah and flanger effects in "Phosphor". René Tiefenböck’s guitar work is solid and creative without a doubt. "Das Ufer hat Zeit" is an emotional closer, with a clean and beautiful guitar melody. It brings to mind RADIOHEAD in the nineties with its relaxing sound. It has an explosive crescendo in the middle, almost of a Post-Rock song, before disarming itself into little more than soft strumming, harmonics, ride cymbals and whispered lines.

MAYFAIR demonstrate an indisputable talent in "Frevel", and above all an intuitive songwriting capability. They build from sounds of the past, but they do not get stuck in them. The production highlights the fact that the album was recorded live, accurately capturing the deep bond between the musicians. It is a rollercoaster ride, without the need for excessive twists and turns.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Evil Christin
2. Hinter dem leben
3. Ungetaktet
4. Himmel in Gefahr
5. Gestern und nicht heut'
6. Hitze
7. Der Teufel
8. Atme (Frevel)
9. Annelise
10. Phosphor
11. Das Ufer hat Zeit
Mario “Le Fate” Prünster – Vocals
René Tiefenböck – Guitars
Martin “Medi” Mayer – Bass
Roland “Jolly” Maehr – Drums
Record Label: Pure Steel Records


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Edited 28 January 2023

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