SON OF THE VELVET RAT
RED CHAMBER MUSIC
Music. Pure & simple. Sound. Atmosphere. Reduced to the essence, without ornament, flourishes or tricky ploys designed to distract. With words, though. Or rather: studded with them, integrated with text, endowed with a voice. Purism is the watchword that immediately comes to mind when the Velvet Rat’s Son steps up to the mike. And: beauty. Peter Jesperson, formerly producer & manager of The Replacements, put it aptly: “... beautiful and somber music, their lyrics are pure poetry.”
In fact, actual practice in this case – discovering songs, writing them down, playing them in the studio, on stage, alone where no one else can hear – goes hand in hand with the process of reflection, the soulsearching, the wholehearted, no-holds-barred elaboration of the song as an art form. From time to time, this process brings forth a collection of lyrics and pieces of music conducive to being fed into the pipelines, merchandising channels and distribution paths of the world of retailing. Georg Altziebler, the “best singer/songwriter this country ever has produced” (Andreas Russ, Kurier), would surely prefer magical dissemination of his oeuvre, a form of propagation that pierces directly to the heart. A melody reverberating eternally. A line that grabs you and never lets go.
And who says that this very thing can’t be done? Son of the Velvet Rat’s just-released sixth album, “Red Chamber Music,” crowns what is already an impressive discography. Now, songs such as “Moment of Fame” (“We may even shoot our way to freedom / if it wasn’t for a hopeless cause”), “Feed Your Dream,” “Little Flower” and “Love Song #9” attest to their having once again intensified and expanded their musical vocabulary. In the process of ascending The Tower of Song, Georg Altziebler, SOTVR’s vocalist and songwriter, and Heike Binder (vocals, keyboard, accordion), his accompanist of many years, pause occasionally on one of the observation platforms along their way, eyes open, sensors still set to receive. This sort of rest stop is evidently what goes into forming the character of SOTVR and an album like “Red Chamber Music”, fully formulating it in all its munificent complexity.
“Red Chamber Music” is a definitively consummate work. From the first song – “Prayers (You’re Not Bold Enough to Say)” with its sincere sentiment (“I wish them well”) – to the final number – “Silence Is a Crown” (“A golden glimmer shining / in the eye of a songbird”) – these ten pieces flow on effortlessly, with no apparent exertion. In doing so, they reveal, almost incidentally but nevertheless insistently, their beauty and the emotions at their core, often gleaned from minute internal movements, unpretentious insights (“Hope is a sweet little sting” are the terms in which the opener puts it).
“Red Chamber Music” is so validly formulated that it’s difficult to take leave of this current, to quit this rich mosaic that, like a great novel or an enthralling film, contains so much, is so stirring, imparts the feeling of understanding something, of having understood more, perhaps even everything. Thus, but not for this reason alone, “Red Chamber Music” is a true album and not just a random assemblage of material.
Altziebler produced “Red Chamber Music” himself. Nashville connection Ken Coomer, who was in charge of “Animals” in 2009, is on the drums this time around. Altziebler calls this the first album he’s completely satisfied with, the one that doesn’t leave him wishing he’d done something differently. All the way to the vocals, where, in every instance, he has reached a clearly palpable, audible point of always singing these songs – of the many ways they conceivably could have been sung – in precisely the way they ought to be sung. “I imagine that I’m able to recognize when I couldn’t do it any better, when I could only do it differently”, he says. You can hear that in the way things turned out.
As the songs on this album slowly began taking shape in the summer of 2010, Georg Altziebler created a space for himself, a domain for collecting and experimenting with lines of text, thoughts, harmonies, chord progressions and emerging melodies. This space, the cellar of an old building in Graz, was painted bright red, and this color scheme ultimately gave the resulting album its title.
Additional recording sessions took place in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville, and we should not fail to give due credit to the creative stimulus provided by those who collaborated on “Red Chamber Music” there. These are great moments. For instance, when Lucinda Williams, the reigning broken Queen of Alternative Country, joins her voice to Altziebler’s on “White Patch of Canvas” (“I’m just a blank reflection in your eyes / a message straight & cold & purified”). Or in “Vampire Song” when two Macedonian brass instrumentalists, Kiril Kuzmanov and Trajce Velkov, take music widely referred to as Americana and transport it to far distant realms. The melancholy that is often attributed to SOTVR dances on the table to this accompaniment, exuberantly and unrestrained – “We don’t look as good as we did before, we don’t smell that good, we’re foul to the core / our flesh may be moldy / but our spirits are free…”
Our spirits are free? Maybe this is exactly what the 10 essential songs on “Red Chamber Music” are all about. Freedom and openness that render the facile ascriptions to categories like chanson, alternative country and Americana Noir obsolete as far as this music is concerned, that make them too petty and narrow to define this music’s coming to terms with things. This is electrified, electrifying chamber music. Communiqués from and on the subject of the world. About the soul, about distress, about dreams both welcome and horrifying, about boredom, emptiness and love (not necessarily Georg Altziebler’s). All of them infused with an unsettling, elevating beauty, but at the same time full of lightness and tender humor.
And “7 Stars” includes one of the most beautiful “political” passages to come along in a while: “It’s all good if you have those seven stars at hand / one in the middle, three stars to each side / if you must share, you can spare one for the homeless, put three in your pocket and ride away.”
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
RED CHAMBER MUSIC
prayers ( you’re not bold enough to say)
hope is a sweet little sting - it's not a plaything - it breaks like glass - & hope is a thorn in the side - of the devil that hides in the shadow - & a song before it’s sung - does it hide in your lungs - does it float in the air - does it wait for someone who can - grab it & then - go out & sing - sometimes something strange happens & you wonder - if it does because you saw it coming all the way - all the way like a dream that you don’t want to come true - or like a prayer you’re not bold enough to say - & if you turn off the light - where does it go - nobody knows - this song goes out to those - who think they can tell - i wish them well - i wish them well
it’s cold in the grave, it’s cold as ice - life can be a drag when death must come twice - it’s blood that we get when it’s love that we crave - & it’s lonely & cold down in the grave - the tarot card girl she knows our fate - but there’s a line at her door & we just can’t wait - ‘cause we do what we must do & we do it by night - & we must be back by the morning light - if you happen to be totally innocent - we can take that spell away - but if we happen to find out you’ve sinned then - you better kneel down & pray - we don’t look as good as we did before - we don’t smell that good, we’re foul to the core - our flesh may be moldy but our spirits are free - so let this ghost ship set sail & fly overseas
it's all good if you have those seven stars at hand - one in the middle - three stars to each side - if you must share, you can spare one for the homeless -put three in your pocket & ride away - she waves her hands over from behind the bar - her fingers like ten little question marks - nine to count down the better part of her secrets - so there is one left for the promise: it's all good - the lady who later became the love of your life - back then she looked like an angel who walks the hellhound - funny how nothing has changed now that she's your wife - she can still make you want to swim on solid ground - & she says - shall i keep those three stars that you left behind - to remind me of the things we did & your eyes & your face - shall i store them in case you need them to support your excuses - or burn them like the evidence of a crime in the fireplace
moment of fame
coffee tables by the shore & people talking - no echo from the wide & open sea - there's a tension building on the water - i can feel it creeping up on me - bang bang - two more shots of liquor - the sky's black & the air is getting cold - the reckless grab their shooters & the lonely - are fumbling for a hand to hold - chances are time's not running backwards - not even in this rundown beach café - don't you turn your head - say a prayer instead - i feel it coming from across the bay - son of a gun – if you got a sister - tell her you love her in the eye of the twister - tell her you love her in the eye of the hurricane - son of a gun - this is your moment of fame - chances are we'll all be pulling triggers - if we don't have someone to pull close - we may even shoot our way to freedom - if it wasn't for a hopeless cause - one last round on the house & then it's over - you have to come up with a reason to survive no more rolling dice - you have to make a choice - if you want to make it out alive
white patch of canvas
i'm a white patch of canvas, blank & dry - i'm staring back at you, i do not lie - i'm just a blank reflection in your eyes - a message straight & cold & purified - my life in art is at its peak - i'm staring back at you, i do not speak - but it's enough to keep you occupied - so i don't mind if you just pass me by - my nature is to sink - into your mind - straight to the blind & secret spot - behind your eyes - i leave no painful mark - no record on your soul 'cept for a little crack - a little hole - i'm a white patch of canvas, blank & dry - i'm staring back at you - i do not lie - & i'll be with you even after you walk by - a message straight & cold & purified
i sit & wait - for what i do not know - i sit & wait - & watch the traffic flow - i smoke a cigarette - i'm happy in a way - i sit & wait - for what i cannot say - most of my brothers feel the way i do - most of my sisters are a little aimless too - in dreams they move down to the south of spain - but deep inside they know they'll sit & wait again - it doesn't pay to line up for a role in any play - it doesn't pay to get yourself involved in any way - whenever love will come around it tends to fall apart - it doesn't even pay to break somebody's heart - one of these days - you'll see - it'll all fall into place for free - this glass of wine will make the sun go down - i'm going to wake up in this same old busy town - stuck in a plan no one remembers straight - but as for me - i'd rather sit & wait
feed your dream
your dream is cold & dangerous like a mirror in the midday sun - you stand there paralyzed – deep inside you know you cannot run - it’ll creep into your veins, it’ll float in your bloodstream - it’ll attack someday out of the blue so buddy, you better feed your dream - it'll invade & flood your brain right there underneath your hat - hang on your windowpane like a sleeping vampire bat it'll eat into your flesh after tearing up your skin - it’ll eat you up & it won’t let go - so buddy, you better feed your dream - & all your fears fit like a glove - you badly need to lose - & all that's dear to you - blow it off to make your dream come true - a scary little devil right there beneath your bed - a hungry little tumor growing right there in your head - it won't be pacified, not by peaches, not by cream - you know, it's more particular so buddy, you better feed your dream
little flower - can you feel me watching you - move your petals, make a sign if you do - little flower - got to go down on my knees - you may be blind my love - but i can see - i won't cut you - i won't pick you - i won't put you in my pocket & run - & i won’t mind if you shine for everyone - little flower - come & open up your face - you know you’re sweet & lovely - i know my place
love song nr. 9
2 glasses, one ashtray, a bed & a soft yellow light - you don’t say a thing so i don’t have to reply - & we both hate the darkness as much as we love the night - there must be right in the wrong when there’s wrong in the right - i’ll sleep when i’m dead & gone & i don’t want to die - & i’ll do anything to keep me from closing my eyes - ‘cause i know i can’t come in my dreams, i know ‘cause i’ve tried - & because i want to see you come by & by - & the man in the mirror - tell him to go die - if he can & disappear - & never come back alive tell him: go die - never thought i deserve you so please won’t you say that i might - say that you love me, say i got nothing to hide - with my arms spread & tied on the bed like i’m crucified - & your face down in the blind spot between my thighs
silence is a crown
you wear it with every word - a golden glimmer shining - in the eye of a songbird - hear that flapping of wings in the air - you might think it's just a trick of the brain - but there's a birdcage abandoned - & balance regained - i see you walking down by the beach underneath the pines - & i assume you're humming a little tune - 'cause i hear your friend sing along in the branches above - & i know he tends to mistake harmony for love - & i know he tends to hide - when i'm around - so i step back, i won't interfere - with the fragile unity - of my sweet & silent companion - & a songbird set free
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
all songs by G.A. 2009; except "hotel song no2", words:Altziebler, music: Altziebler, Klinger, Khinast & "straight ahead":words&music by G.Sage
produced by Ken Coomer & Charlie Brocco recorded & mixed by Ch. Brocco, Westwood Sound Studio, Nashville, TN, 11/2008; mastered by Rupert Metnitzer, electric audio, Graz
bonus tracks produced by G. A.
recorded by Michael Prieß, Sonic Sofa studio, Berlin, 7/2008 mixed & mastered by R. Metnitzer, electric audio, Graz
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
dreams like dust on the dashboard - now and then you got to wipe them away - when you're on your way to sand mountain - they're useless anyway - wishes like black mosquitoes - insects that live on my blood - come to see me round midnight - & then they multiply in the mud - i envy the helicopter pilot - cruising over sand mountain's top - sand mountain looks great from a distance - it's so much smaller close up - sand mountain – you've seen me stumble - sand mountain – you've seen me crawl - but - sand mountain – i'll watch you crumble - and someday i'll watch you fall - all the pretty people up there - dressed in multicolored shades - you can stand among them naked - and they'll take it for a masquerade - partly song and partly rumble - sand mountain i can hear you call - partly weak and partly humble - i don't want to be up there at all - disappear like a spark in the fire - dissolve like a tear in the smoke - you can swallow too much of nothing - & nothing will make you choke
perfect picture still
blood under my fingernails - this is why you look so pale - kind of absent, sweet & frail - did you really have to sail - away - feel a wind that doesn't blow - see a mark that doesn't show - green grass between my toes - & i'll miss you when it snows - sleep baby sleep - until your dreams relate to mine - & even if they never will - sleep baby sleep - & we will stand the test of time - like a perfect picture still
same monkey (in a different zoo)
she's like a movie queen - she's like a black & white heroine - way up on the silver screen - & then in my dreams - she's not just a pretty one - she's a star you can wish upon - but she's there and then she's gone - so you better don't wink - cut me - cut me like a flower - keep me for a couple days - water me in the early hours - & when i hang my head - throw me away - i'd fly to kathmandu - for a cup of honeydew - i'll be like - the same monkey in a different zoo - but don't you laugh
sometimes i feel like a featherless bird - among other birds - they look at me with their cruel black eyes - and they don't say a word - i can tell by their beaks they don't care - if i live or die - but when i mention your name they get restless and then - they fly up to the sky - sometimes the air that i breathe - makes me throw up nails - & sometimes when i think of you - my thoughts derail - & sometimes i walk down my street - and i can't find my way - & sometimes there's aimless anger - and not much to say - i want you to try for the dumb bird - try & tear up the silent night & make it sing - i want you to fly with the brown furred mole that dreams of growing it's paws into feather wings - i want you to spread your love like an absurd tropical rain on a cold western town - and i want you to come home when the day is done and the sun goes down - sometimes i just don't understand what you say - & i have to admit - i'm so awfully slow between my ears - & under my hat - & i have to admit i wrote this song - as a little tool - a tool made to intrigue you - 'cause you're beautiful
la vache qui rit
eh bien eh bien - voilà l’histoire - d’une vache qui rit - une hors-la-loi - dans un pays si triste - les hommes matérialistes - avec ma bmw, je me sens un peu comme une vache qui rit - la fête commence - la vache qui rit - fume des marlboro, boit du whisky - c’est trop pour une vache, une pauvre vache - qui ne rit plus jamais, non plus jamais - voilà ma vie si triste - un pauvre mec que j’ existe - c’est une erreur de dieu - une erreur de dieu - et quand je passe, même les vaches - arrêtent de bouffer - et chantent - je suis une vache - et j’aime les taureaux
they stay around
millions of lights - shine in the night - see them shine on & on - all the souls in this city - & all of their dreams - where do they go - when they're gone - there's not one face - in this crowded place - just silhouettes moving on - they all have a reason - they all have a cause - but where do they go - when they're gone - hey stay around - float in the clouds - dance in the shadows - sleep in the ground - stay around - some guide the guardian angels - some play with - the hellhounds
if you were a deep-sea diver - down at the bottom of the sea - would you take me there - & lay with me in the seaweed - we may get lost in there - entwined for good - would you hesitate - i think you would - if i went hunting with a dagger - & a gun & a pocket full of shells - & if i shot you down - instead of a young gazelle - would you know it was love - that made me blind - take your time - make up your mind - it's your life - you pick & chose - who to love - & who to lose - if i sat on your shoulder - like a parrot on the shoulder of a queen - & my jokes 'bout your ladies in waiting - were all dark, dirty & mean - would you admit that you were the one - who told me those dirty words - i couldn't think them up - i'm just a brainless bird
come & help me play my role - if my role is to cling to that hole - won't you come & say - i'm a good actor - all i see is an open door - i don't want to go through anymore - won't you close that door - and throw away the key - lend me your ear for my secrets to tell to - not all of them - some of them - those that are too hard to keep - lend me your brain, lend me your eyes to see through - and when i'm sad, lend me your eyes to weep - i'm so happy you are here - be the one i can crawl into & disappear - say it again please, - say that you love me
language is a mule
words are like rats they breed in the unsure - & feed on dirt out of the trash can of the soul - & once they are set free they multiply - so hard to put them back down in the hole - words can be soft & frail as autumn leaves - real pretty & pretty much in vain - dance in the wind & tumble to the ground - & then get washed away by the autumn rain - language is a mule - you beat it 'till it bears - bags full of lies - language is a mule - won't get you anywhere - don't even try - it's just a waste of breath to speak in riddles - i’ll try to find a code up in the clouds - to make me understand what made us gamble - & trade love for a pocket full of doubt
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
With the 2008 release "Gravity" (10-inch/vinyl only), Son Of The Velvet Rat introduced a sideshow in the vein of Garage Rock. In this case, form and content deliberately do not produce a symbiosis but are rather on a path of collision.
Why not dance if the essential questions of life are being left unanswered: "Is anybody out there waiting - you never know!"
In contrast to the familiar downbeat tempos of previous Son Of The Velvet Rat releases, the 5 new songs on "Gravity" embrace a more accelerated tempo. The instrumentation on "Gravity" takes a new turn on Son Of The Velvet Rat's familiar piano/accordion arrangements and introduces electric guitars and '70s French pop-inspired keyboards.
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
sick of you
i'm sick of you - that's what you said - i know you don't mean it - still it's making me sad - why must we speak - when there's nothing to say - don't let go of my hand - when you go away - we'll sway with the black branches - & sing with the crows - or sit by the window - & wait for the snow - i cling to you like a leaf - clings to the wind when it blows - i really hope for the wind - not to let me go - tell me your dreams - i'll try to adjust - mine if i can & - change if i must - as if i deserved - to be with you - i thought of it lately - i'm not sure if i do - we'll sway with the black branches - & sing with the crows - or sit by the window - & wait for the snow - there's a hole in the sky - where all of my senses go - there must be a third word - not only yes or no - this is a little promise - hope it won't prove wrong - this is a little prayer - not just another song
don't you need a hand on your hand - when you close your eyes - would it help if death would come - in some funny disguise - would it help if he spoke in rhymes - to make it plain - this is not the end - you just set out for the unknown again - is anybody out there waiting - out there where you're bound to go - is anybody out there waiting - you never know - you never know - you never know - put a big smile on your face - when you say goodbye - everybody will agree - it's a beautiful try - shake as many hands - as you possibly can - this is not the end - you just set out for the unknown again
do you love me
a free mind is a blank page - a white bird set free from a bird cage - white is my color - let the white bird sing, let it snow in june - & i promise i'll stop waiting for the full moon - to grow fuller - should i get rid of my records, my diaries - should i ask the man at the registry office - to burn my file - sometimes the past doesn't seem to mold - sometimes i wish that i was cold-blooded - like a reptile - do you love me - for that little crack in reality - do you love me - for that little crack in my soul - won't you stick your fingers - right through the cracks of mortality - won't you shoot the black flag - full of holes - tell me what can i give away - name me someone brave who'll come & say - give it to me - i'm going down to the basement to see what i can find - in these cobwebbed drawers, in my confused mind - what could it be? - your skin on my skin - your breath in my ear - there's no future - as long as you're here
my eyes are like paneless windows - just can't seal off my soul - so i wait all day for the light - to flood back in the hole - time goes by like a fever - faith is a matter of mood - this is just a state of transition - just an interlude - & when the night's coming - i just sit & stare - my mind all open - & my skin all bare - safely wrapped up - in blackened air - fear can be such a strange beast - it's there but it doesn't show - hides in the bliss of the summer - lurks underneath the snow - all these names & faces - i'll forget them one by one - & watch them fade like cold smoke - into the setting sun
blank and blue
weak is what i am - dreaming me back - to places i've been - speak to me if you can - don't let the big black - come & suck me in - i feel like a snake - when i shed my skin - again & again - by & by you will see - i won't give in - see if you can - burn, burn all you can burn & then - burn the ashes too - sink the past like lead - into the sea so blank & blue - fate is a state of mind - come shake off the load - get up off your knees - straight up to the skies - we're bound to go - eventually
the room looks cheap - but i don't really care - green blanket on the bed - & a broken chair - there's no tv of course - i told you it's a cheap place - but there's a mirror on the wall - so i won't forget my face - late at night - when i'm trying to sleep - there's so much noise - from down in the street - two people fucking - in the room next to mine - wish i had a radio playing in here - that’d be fine - this is a hotel song - i think you know by now - in here we’re all alone - anyhow - then i wake up in the morning - wash my face - take a look around - it's still the same old crummy place - i brush my teeth - & then i brush my hair - & then i pick up my bag - & i make it for the stairs
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
LOSS & LOVE
All songs G.Altziebler (c) 2007, except #5 Fred Cole; Produced by Ken Coomer; Recorded & mixed by Charlie Brocco, 16-Ton Studios Nashville/TN;
Mastered by Eric Conn, Independent Mastering, Nashville/TN
voc, git & harmonica #6,#7 rec. by A.Klinger, Electric Audio, Graz;
Bonus tracks rec. live at 'Die Brücke', Graz by G. Kolmann, March 2007
Coverartwork:HB, Videostills/Cover - 'Are the Angels Pretty?', fordbrothers
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
LOSS & LOVE
no plans today but time - for love to come alive - so happy that you are - my sweet & pretty wife - & not just what i say - but what i really mean - is what you get - & who i really am - not who i might have been - both our bad dreams - packed into a bag - nailed to the bedroom door - for me & you - to see & think about - & smile - unsafe & unprotected - from darkness, wind & snow - you hold the lamp & i will - hold your hand as we go
bad screenplay / bad karma
shoot me down - like a pigeon - i'm dying to fall - i'm loosing my love - 'cause you don't love me at all - & loss is a drag - but love is divine - & between loss & love - is a very thin line - are you ready to shoot? - shoot me down - like a useless star in the sky - miss me forever - & kiss me goodbye - bad screenplay or bad karma - - all i know is this: - death is a friend - when you're ready to go - are you ready to shoot? - & when i bite the dust - i'll save some for you - i'm going straight up to heaven - but i won't take you - are you ready to shoot?
fall with me
it's the end of another - lazy summer day - airplane high in the blue sky - i know i can't fly away - you gave me a reason to love you - now give me a reason to live - if you ask me for anything in return - i'll see what i have to give - & why not fall with me - if i can't fly with you - why not fall with me - & fall in love - we're lost from the very beginning - found in the very end - & if we go look for each other - let's do it hand in hand
who's that lounging beside me - when i'm alone in my bed - i'm blind to the face in the mirror - deaf to the voice in my head - he must have accepted my invitation - must have filled up an empty space - but when you came along - there was not enough room - for the three of us in my place - got to cut him down - kick him out - wash him away from my skin - but will that ever - make you come see me again - you talked to me in my sleep - & i could understand - you didn't really say much - but you slipped that knife into my hand
drift & dream
your breath fills my room - & it whispers in my ear - that must be why - the wind never stops in here - drift & dream - drift & dream - down the flow we drift & dream - even though we do not move - we drift & dream - your breath sucks all of the air - out of my room - we'll have to get used - to life in a vacuum - the wind in this room - it blows this song away - one room & one song - - stations on the way
horsedoctor - you grind your teeth - when you smile & it's obvious - i could be your patient - but i can't be your friend - horsedoctor - billions of flies - buzzing around your house - they came on your orders - now you can`t make them disappear - horsedoctor - i've seen your file - it says you keep what you promise - that would be good news - if i were a horse - would you have mercy - if i were a horse - a beautiful black horse - a beautiful brown horse - a beautiful white horse - or even a pony - would you have mercy - if i were a horse - horsedoctor - climb on the back of your horse - & come see me - we share the same disease - but only you know the cure
what makes me hurt
no, i will not ask - though i would like to know - what makes me blind - makes me unfit to find - a way to go - now it could be because - i stare when i should speak - & blink when i should see - what makes me me - what makes me weak - & then what makes me crawl - when i should try to fly - & when i fly - what makes me fall - now it could be because - sometimes i can`t control - myself & then my blood - runs thicker than black mud - & i keep to my hole - my head down in the dirt - so nobody can see - what makes me me - what makes me hurt - no i will not ask - though i would like to know - what makes me blind - makes me unfit to find - a way to go
strange type of sleep
strange type of sleep - strange type of dream - my eyes are open wide - i lie & stare - but i don’t see - who's lying by my side - what makes a dead star shine - will make you smile - when love goes blind - it turns into - some cruel energy - that keeps on raging - in the distance - between you & me
i have no expectations - but i hope you come see me soon - would be the perfect constellation - just you & me & the moon - seemed it would rain forever - we drowned in our dreams for the night - love came by for a minute - then came the morning light - sunshine come & steal away my memory - give me a blank brain - & new eyes to see - sunshine don't you lie to me again - the lights of the city they flicker - the black of the night sucks me in - i have no expectations - but i hope you come see me again
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
visit SotVR on → monkey.
Info (german only)
Georg Altziebler: das erste Mal untergekommen ist mir der Name, als ich eine Platte der Band Pure Laine auf dem gravitätischen Thorens-Plattenteller des Studios RP4 im Funkhaus in der Wiener Argentinierstrasse placierte. Meine Augen streiften über die Angaben des Vinyl-Covers, wer hinter dieser Musik stecken mochte, die angeblich aus Graz kam und dennoch eher nach US-Bands wie Dream Syndicate oder Thin White Rope klang. Das muß gegen Ende der achtziger Jahre des vorigen Jahrhunderts gewesen sein. Da der Name dieser mir bis dato unbekannten Band aber oft genug falsche Assoziationen weckte, etwa jene zu einem „pure lane“, dem rechten Pfad zur menschlichen, sprich: christlichen Tugend, verwarf Altziebler ihn alsbald wieder. Aber das sollte ich erst später erfahren. Da hatte ich längst mein Herz an das Nachfolgeprojekt Bloom 05 verloren. „Slow Star“ und „Lonesome Solar Surfer“, Dokumente des Werkens und Wirkens dieser Formation, erreichten mich in der Ferne. Zu Radiopräsenz und gesteigerter Aufmerksamkeit jenseits der Mur-Mürz-Furche konnte ich ihnen nicht verhelfen. Die Verlorenheit des Herzens blieb.
Dann gelangte auf verschlungenen Wegen ein erstes Lebenszeichen des Sohns der samtenen Ratte in meine Hände. Ich erinnere mich, „Are The Angels Pretty?“ auf einer mit zarter Handschrift markierten, selbstgebrannten CD auf einer staubigen Landstraße zwischen Retz und Hollabrunn initial gehört zu haben. Wieder und wieder. Die Luft flirrte ob der sommerlichen Hitze, aber darüber hinaus stieg etwas Unwirkliches, Ätherisches, letztlich eine sublime Botschaft, daß dieser Sänger und dieser Song mehr verdient hätten als die Aufmerksamkeit weniger Minuten. Sie hatten sie nicht nur verdient, sie hatten sie auch erreicht. Seit diesem Moment sind das Schicksal von Son of the Velvet Rat und jenes des Labels monkey. auf eine lose, aber auch bestimmte, feine, doch haltbare Weise miteinander verwoben.
Dazwischen war viel. Verdammt viel: Nashville, Tennessee. Berlin. Los Angeles. Die Zusammenarbeit mit Ken Coomer (Wilco), Richard Pappik (Element Of Crime), Kristof Hahn (Swans, Les Hommes Sauvage). Eine Begegnung mit Lucinda Williams, samt wechselseitiger Studio-Einladung. CD-Veröffentlichungen in Österreich, Deutschland, Schweiz, den USA und Korea. Eine Tour an der US-Westcoast. Eine Tour in Irland. Die Geburt eines Sohnes. Alltag, konterkariert von der Ohnmacht eines sterbenden Musikmarkts. Und der Allmacht eines Künstlers, dessen Vision sich nicht und nicht und nicht diesem Alltag ergeben will.
Anno 2010, zum fünfjährigen Bestehen des Affenstalls (respektive dessen Tonträgerabteilung), hielten wir es nicht für die schlechteste Idee, Zwischenbilanz zu ziehen. Das vorliegende Album – strikt limitiert auf 500 Exemplare – ist ein Geschenk an uns selbst. Aber auch an Georg Altziebler. Und Heike Binder. Natürlich die gesamte Band. Son of the Velvet Rat ist die Inkarnation eines Traums, das Personal des traumverlorenen Stücks kennt unterschiedliche Besetzungen, Phasen und Wechsel. Man muß aber nicht rätseln, wer unabdingbar ist auf der Bühne, die das Leben spiegelt. Altziebler und seine Mitstreiter(innen) haben es geschafft, in diesen fünf Jahren eines gemeinsamen Weges drei Alben und eine EP zu veröffentlichen – „Playground“ ( 2006), „Loss & Love“ (2007), „Gravity“ (2008) und „Animals“ (2009). Man darf das mit Fug’ und Recht als stringentes Oeuvre bezeichnen. „Monkey Years“ ist, nomen est omen, eine Art Best Of-Album geworden. Eine essentielle Sammlung. Eine Zusammenstellung von tönenden Kleinoden, die – allein ob ihrer annähernd chronologischen Aneinanderreihung und wechselseitigen Resonanz – ein ebenso schlichtes wie dezidiertes Urteil ermöglichen, ja förmlich erzwingen: Georg Altziebler schreibt Songs, die kein Ablaufdatum kennen. Keine Ausflüchte. Und keinen Staatsbürgerschaftsnachweis. Darüber hinausgehende Superlative stehen mir – ob klarer Befangenheit – nicht zu.
Es ist aber wohl zulässig, die eine oder andere Stimme von außerhalb zu zitieren. „Der beste Singer/Songwriter, den das Land hervorgebracht hat“ (Andreas Russ, „Kurier“). „Chansongewordene Trauermärsche mit paradiesischen Zwischentönen.“ (Gerhard Stöger, „Falter“) „There‘s some dark majesty at work here.“ (Suzie Q, Logo Magazine) „Feinst geschliffene Lieder, die an der Endstation Sehnsucht erst richtig beginnen.“ (Werner Krause, „Kleine Zeitung“). „Wer Songwriter sagt, muss auch Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Townes van Zandt, Bill Callahan oder Will Oldham sagen. Dass ein im internationalen Business noch unbekannter Grazer sich ohne Wenn und Aber in diese Liste einfügt, ist schlicht sensationell.“ (Fritz Ostermayer, FM4) „Son of the Velvet Rat hat mehr Spannung, Charisma und fesselnde Atmosphäre im kleinen Finger als die meisten Songwriter in der ganzen Hand.“ (Oliver Uschmann, Visions). „Catharthic European Folk“ (Sahar Oz, „Delusions Of Adequacy“). „Altziebler versteht es, Songs zu schreiben, die den amerikanischen Standard übertreffen... Mit Son of the Velvet Rat wird noch einiges passieren.“ (Christian Steinbrinck, „Intro“).
Letzteres nehmen wir wörtlich. Sing weiter, Sohn der Samtratte. Sing. Die Affen lauschen. Unter uns: ergriffen.
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
A good song is a secret, something that distresses and delights in equal measure. Either way-"Playground" is SotVR's most accessible effort to date.
14 songs, open and complexly multi-layered at the same time; different takes on this singular moment of clarity that ultimately remains an illusion; phrased in a language that excises the extraneous and goes for the heart. The instrumentation is sparing: piano, electric guitar, minimalist percussion plus violin & accordion punctuation that engender intimate tonal imagery.
Several cuts were recorded live at Cafe l'angolo in Graz, Austria; the rest in the studio. "Playground" stakes all it's got on fervent, heartfelt interpretation and the magic of the musicians' spontaneous collaboration. The result is an album you can get lost in if you want to, and one in which you can rediscover something if that's what you need.
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
→ flower song
→ ready to go
→ sleeping stars
→ the sea so blue
→ everything`s calm (but my heart)
→ how can i make her smile again
→ i'm a jet pilot
→ are the angels pretty
→ blue hair
→ she floated away
→ when she walks in the room
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
the morning light - came unexpectedly - the flowers are - still asleep - i watch them open up - their faces - & smile at me - for today i won't be the one - i won't be the one to turn away - today i'll trade - this heart shaped blade for a kiss
ready to go
i'm ready to go - i'm not - waiting for someone to say - stay you could make me sad - cause everybody's sad these days - i'm ready to ask for you - if i could speak i'd say - stay you could make me sad - & everybody's sad these days - are you sad - no not us - we are just confused by love - the cars go so fast & the planes - crossing the sky going somewhere - i'm ready to go anywhere
the sun shows the lines on your face - & delicate traces of doubt - the delicate traces of trouble - love doesn't come without - let's do like the sleeping stars - & not waste our lights - up in the blue skies - but wait for the night - wait for the night to shine - you keep asking me questions - & i don't know what to say - give me some time to get over - the life i gave away - give me some time to accept that - yesterday's ghosts are dead - i promise i'll gladly forget them - when i can have you instead
the sea so blue
the sea so blue today - i watch the children play - & all the bad things - they will do are far away - i watch the dolphins - as they're passing by - they wave their tails - & i can hear them cry - channel the pain - focus your solitude - right through your veins - so free & unsubdued - don't share it with the ones you love - i hear the waves - i hear them moan & sigh - they tell me that i'm going to be - a cloud up in the sky - or maybe even not it’s hard to say - here comes the wind - to blow the clouds away
everything`s calm (but my heart)
my weakness is a flag - i wave it to impress you - your kindness is a tool - use it if you have to - but please accept excuses - as long as they sound true - everything's calm but my heart - when i wrote down my wishes - there was something i forgot - there's something that you mean to me - but i just don't know what - & everything depends upon - whether you are here or not - everything's calm but my heart - here's to the one i'm looking for - as i stare into your eyes - i see you staring back at me - you smile & so do i - cause we both tend to see a bit - of truth in every lie - everything's calm but my heart
how can i make her smile again
i count the faces - as they are floating by - some of them look at me - some of them cry - but all of them - are soft & pale & dead - so i'm waiting for the sad sweet face - that i can't forget - & how can i make her smile again - i found out - that i had to join the parade - now that i hold you - it's a little late - you must be dead i know - 'cause that's how cold you are - & every time you kiss me - you leave a little scar - how can i make you smile again - she said she loves me - i'm sweet enough it seems - if blood was black - & if my hands were clean - i would just go to sleep - & laugh at sorrow - i would just go to sleep until tomorrow - & i could make her smile again
lungfish - are you cold tonight - so deep under water - so far from daylight - blind boy - blind love - blind mirror - blindfold - too blind to see - the one you hold - so you go down where the rocks are bare - the lights go dark - & all you do is stare - you can't fill this room with your laughter - you can't fill this room - with your breath - you can't close your eyes - when you sleep - lungfish you sink - like a stone to the ground - you scream but you don't - make any sound
i'm a jet pilot
on my way up i see - planes tumbling down - sinking into the clouds - without making a sound - & as i look around - i'm all alone - but i'm a jet pilot - i listen to the sound of my engine - & not to song of the siren - i'm a jet pilot - i listen to the voice from the tower - & not to the voice in my head - this aircraft has eyes like open doors - people have faces that i should ignore - they keep creeping in - got to close these doors - got to keep control - sometimes it feels like nothing holds me - a puppet on an broken string - feel like floating out into open space - feel so free it makes me sing - on my way down i hear - my own voice call - it calls my name - but it can't stop the fall - there is no end to that fall - there is no ground
she can fly away, i know - she's got wings i can't break, i know - all i can do is wait - for the breeze to blow - blow her away like a dream and so - i just wait - does she know i still can recall - her feathers flowing like waterfalls - some of her feathers - i hold in my hand - while the rest rolled away like the sea & the sand & the sun - all i can do is wait - for the breeze to blow - blow her away like a dream & so - i just wait - she's a bird she will fly away - & leave a message - but have nothing to say - blank paper blank nerves so fray - a bare room & bare ground to lay - lay me down
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
ALPHA SUITE / FILM-MUSIC (2004)
"Alpha Suite" features 100% instrumental cuts that have just about nothing in common with conventional film music. They've been conceived as a process of musical reflection upon the tension and interplay between image and sound.
The music's mode of production is programmatic. Looped rhythms have been dispensed with. An analog approach-using electric guitars, keyboards and melodica-generate sounds that clearly set themselves off from conventional varieties of film music.
They neither relate narratives nor paint moods; at most, they react to whatever visual stimuli might be available and impart an oscillation to the cerebral cortex. Anyone unable to summon up the necessary powers of imagination is hereby advised to turn on the TV (keeping one finger poised upon the mute button). The only other tip for those partaking of this music: picture it (but not in advance).
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
BY MY SIDE (2003)
"By my Side" is SotVR's first full-length CD, a compilation of spontaneous takes on very personal songs and their momentary significance. For the most part, the vocals were done on a small Fender vacuum-tube amp. The resulting distance creates a dimension for atmospheric depth-of-field.
On one hand, the instrumentation is suggestive of the work of country-crossover artists like Townes van Zandt and Tim Hardin; then again, the use of melodica and harmonica also gives rise to associations with the '50s chanson. Various mini-organs and an electric bow endow the sound with a somewhat plush texture.
The songs tell tales of alienation and estrangement, distance and closeness, love and its absence, in a clear, reduced language that pierces to the core. The world might seem dark and dismal at times but the night sky is sometimes aglitter with stars.
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
BY MY SIDE (2003)
can you see me - i'm standing at the gate - i call a friend & say - i know it's late but - you see i’m so confused - & i need a place to stay - i hope he understands - i'm on my way - i'm leaving you - & this is you - without me by your side - this is the future - blank but open wide - & if i had a plan - i'd give it to you - i would give anything - for something new - i'm leaving you
play a ghost note on my soul
play a ghost note on my soul - i'll answer on your drum - walk a zombie in the park - & take him home tonight - tonight you may - hear the bells - the bells nobody ever rings - play a ghost note on my soul - i'll answer on your drum
a scorpio by my side - a black sign moving - the color of a scorpio’s eyes - the color of a scorpio’s soul - black as a martyr’s face - color of coal - somebody smoked my paper wings - so i must fall - a phantom in my bed – i'm not afraid - a ghost to guide me home – i’m not afraid - two hands to hide my face – i’m not afraid - now that i know my sign - i'm not afraid at all - the promises i broke were promises he made - i’m not to blame & so i’m not afraid - to fall & hit the ground – i’m not afraid - to wake up from this dream - i'm not afraid at all
your sweetest smile
when she comes she’s beautiful - & when she goes i'm blue - & when she says she loves me - she makes me think of you - i have a dream that i keep dreaming - a dream as cold as the sea - i see you kissing somebody - who doesn’t look like me - you saved your sweetest smile for me - we’ll take this dream out to the beach - we’ll tie it to a stone to make it go down - then from our hotel room window - we will watch it drown - you saved your sweetest smile for me
i wish your soft brown fur would keep - the cold off of my bones - your soul tied to my wrist would keep me from - keep me from being alone - i wish your teeth would hurt my skin - the yellow of your eyes - it would replace the yellow sun - the holes up in the sky - did i make you a better person - did you make me a better guy - maybe i just got what i wanted - & you told me a better lie - i wish your tongue would feel like pain - & cut my tongue in two - i would not have to speak no more - i'd leave it up to you - & i'd be still like i was born - a cold & bloodless stone - you'd be cold & bloodless too - & i would be alone
i just don't know
i said i love you when you cried - - you cried a lot - cried so many tears - - filled up the hole - that used to suck me in - - it sucks me in again - & all the sympathy i can't control - i said i love you when you cried - - you cried a lot - i said i love you - - but i lied or maybe not - i just don't know - i look at you - i look for someone sweet - you close your eyes - & try to lock me out - hope you find someone - to fit into your dreams - hope you don't mind - that i ran out of doubt
are the angels pretty?
did you know where you were going - have you been there before - is it really a cool place to be - is it like you expected it to be - & are the angels pretty? - did you meet somebody - you have not seen in a while - send a letter if you can & let me know - did you keep your secrets or did you leave them at the door - & are the angels pretty? - how pretty are they? - are they prettier than pretty? - so pretty that it hurts & makes you close your eyes - or just good looking? - did you have to tell them - or did they know everything - the black you spread & could not wipe away - the kiss you did not give - the word you did not say - & are the angels pretty?
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
SPARE SOME SUGAR FOR THE RAT (2003)
"Spare some Sugar [for the Rat]" was recorded amidst the familiar warmth of a living-room studio and released in spring 2003 by starfish records/ixthuluh.
The six titles purvey no audio façades buffed to a high-gloss sheen; instead, they offer intimate initial accountings for human encounters, in addition to prefiguring the shapes of things to come in subsequent work.
The principals intentionally did without efforts to achieve sequencer-timed exactitude. The instrumental lineup includes guitar, electric bass, percussion, violin, button-key accordion, flugelhorn and harmonica.
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
SPARE SOME SUGAR FOR THE RAT (2003)
death is a warm glove
love's not pure - & love is sweet - love's insecure - & love is need - death is a warm glove - once it fits - you can't take it off
black bird / black rain
water come - & wash away the light - wash away the night - wash away the rain - can i borrow - your blackbird eyes - even though you got no - eyelids to hide - your feather wings - so i could fly - fly if i wanted to
bastards of utopia
our dogs are called fame and fortune - our eyes are blue & red - the bastards of utopia - sleep in a flowerbed - they sleep with both eyes open - they never sleep at night - their red eyes shine like darkness - their blue eyes shine with light - we use our minds to travel - we use our coats to fly - the river of our loneliness - never will run dry - because our brothers hate us - & we hate them again - sometimes we give our dogs a hug - & cry like real men - you better shoot when you find us - this is what we need - you better shoot when you find us - we'll be ready to bleed - the bastards of utopia - a bunch of gentle souls - their voices sweet as gasoline - their humor bright as coal - their song is like a secret - that you don't want to know - & when they go to heaven - they go by u.f.o.
keep it vague
you turn away from me - one of us always will - i always knew - we failed to kiss away the pain - & now we can't be true - i stole your smile - i sucked it in - & could not bring it back - not even on my face - just dropped it into black - i left a hole - & filled it up with lack - keep it vague
our leather coats - have turned to skin again - the walls of our room - are paper-thin again - the window panes are broken - the wind is blowing in - it feels so good to hear it blow again
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
Live@Lunch is the bootleg recording of a live on-the-air performance at radio station KRFC in Fort Collins, Colorado on June 1, 2004. It documents one stop on a US tour that ran May 23-June 3, 2004.
The live numbers are interspersed with excerpts from the in-studio interview as well as individual cuts from previously released CDs
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
REAPER (2012 | monkey.)
Why these songs, precisely these and no others from among so many possibilities? I don’t know.
These 10 songs have one thing in common: For years now, they’ve been hovering through my airspace like flying saucers, “friendly aliens,” shimmering, eternally new regardless of the sun’s altitude or my mood.
Singing somebody else’s songs—chutzpah, self-empowerment and hope to do justice to the material. And seductive—the strange template can open up a portal to spaces previously closed. A good song leads into an uncertain domain. Even here and now, in this cellar, on this barstool, behind this golden microphone.
Why exactly these songs? I don’t know.
“The girl in the corner” ... a song that morphs into a puzzle, an unreal waltz about an unreal encounter, and a wonderful song. I wish I had written it.
“It’s a long way to the top” ... Unmistakable, dry and unadorned, but take away the rock-’n’-roll and the light’s broken. The stars on the Walk of Fame might be dirty but they’re good enough for dreams.
Or “I will survive” … The mirrored disco ball, a glaring spotlight, no more than that. The song radiates from within. A look back in rage, and yet: What euphoria!
I look over to my “partner in crime” beneath the basement window. Martin Gasselsberger is playing like there’s no tomorrow and nevertheless saves half of his notes for eternity. Simple and complex at the same time, just like the songs on the sheet music stand in front of me.
Whoever wrote these songs: Thank you!
Martin Gasselsberger - rhodes piano, wurlitzer piano, upright piano
Georg Altziebler - vocals
Matthias Loibner - hurdy gurdy
Albrecht Klinger - slide guitar
Rupert Metnitzer - musical saw
Heike Binder - backing vocals
recorded by Christian Bachner
mixed by Fabio Schurischuster
mastered by Rupert Metnitzer
Drawing: Kristin Tabea Kelich
Artwork: Axel Wolph
SON OF THE VELVET RAT
REAPER | monkey.
→ The girl in the corner
Freddie Perren, Dino Fekakis → The ballad of Lucy Jordan
Shel Silverstein → Eat drink and be merry
S. Ferguson, C. Ferguson → It's a long way to the top (if you wanna rock & roll)
A. Young, M. Young, B. Scott → Dark as a dungeon
Merle Travis → The girl with the bluebird
Don Walker → Carmelita
Warren Zevon → Happy
Jagger, Richards, Turley → Carrickfergus
Son of the Velvet Rat - FIREDANCER | monkey.
"I'm a good son, and my father's a firedancer." The key line in the shortest song on Son of the Velvet Rat's new album elegantly attaches itself to the bare bones of a waltz that is carried by nothing but Georg Altziebler's acoustic guitar, winding its way deep into the listener's head with the insistence of an endless chorus. But impressions deceive: In fact Altziebler sings this line only once. "I say 'Who am I to deserve this?' but I get no answer," he continues in characteristically dead-pan style.
"This record has a lot to do with my father's death," Altziebler explains, "Some of the lyrics were written immediately afterwards, and they are full of the contradictions of such an experience. The same way that there is no pure love, there can hardly ever be pure grief. But who would want that anyway? Humor, yes. Energy. And rage, of course."
This is why the title song, resting like a quiet centerpiece in the middle of the album, is surrounded by some of the most life-affirming, outright danceable songs ever to have appeared on a Son of the Velvet Rat record. In a song called "The Pond", swept along by the joy of the moment, the usually reserved singer even allows himself a spontaneous "Wooh!"
Even the aforementioned feelings of rage are tempered by sarcasm: "Friends with God" tries (and fails) to make peace with the cruel cynicism of fate: "I need a new rabbit to pull out of my hat / All I've conjured up now are roadkill and rats."
His shoulders bowed under the weight of the world, brows permanently knitted with skepticism, this gaunt magician presents his bunny with a wry smile on his lips. Having chased it for thousands of miles, he finally caught it on his own doorstep.
Unlike its predecessors that were mostly recorded on trips to the USA, "Firedancer" came alive in Sasa Prolić's Garaz̄a studio back in Altziebler's Austrian hometown Graz. The cast of players included not just his wife and musical partner Heike Binder, long-standing compadres Albrecht Klinger (this time on bass) and drummer Anne Weinhardt, Matthias Loibner on the hurdy gurdy, Fritz Ostermayer on the ukulele as well as organ and piano parts by Martin Gasselsberger and Fabio Schurischuster, but also new friends such as multi-instrumentalist Kolja Radenković (guitar, mandolin, trumpet, flugelhorn), saxophonist Jani Šepetavec, guitarist Sas̄enko Prolić and backing vocalist Vesna Petković.
The latter four all belong to a Bosnian/Serb/Croat diaspora that settled in the capital of Austria's southernmost province Styria after the Yugoslav civil war just across the border two decades ago. On "Firedancer", their presence adds a new, homegrown mix of colors to the palate of Altziebler's sounds. "It's certainly not Americana," he says, "I've done enough of that already."
Altziebler has a point. Over the years, in a sequence of albums stretching from "By My Side" via "Playground", "Loss & Love", "Animals" and "Red Chamber Music" to last year's collection of covers "Reaper", Son of the Velvet Rat took their mission of assimilating transatlantic vibes to a level of perfection that left little to add. If Altziebler's music has always been a vehicle for his longings, then it made sense for these longings to switch direction in line with his recent move across the water.
These days Altziebler and Binder commute, their little son in tow, every six months between Graz and a nameless small town in the middle of the Californian desert.
With its chorus about getting rid of "that hole in your heart", the song "Trapped Sunlight" eloquently spells out the hollow feeling of uprootedness felt be anyone who has ever moved to an entirely new and alien place:
"The hills in the distance seem so near
It takes more than a lifetime to get there from here
Life here is slow – speed never pays
Not in the heart of the city anyway"
While Ken Coomer, Altziebler's friend from Nashville and former member of Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, has again contributed percussion and a song like the cinematic ballad "Day at the Beach" owes much of its magic to the voices of "soul sisters" Gale Mayers and Angela Primm, the central European soul of the song comes to the fore in Kolja Radenković's lilting mandolin, the wistful sounds of Heike Binder's accordion and the sigh of Matthias Loibner's hurdy gurdy.
You can almost picture Altziebler sitting there under the Western sun, grabbing his guitar and searching for the lost spirit of the Old World in the gaps between the strings.
Only a pedant would suggest he might undertake this search over on the other coast: "What a sweet thing when it dawns on you / That your love’s really your best friend / Makes you feel like you’re winning the Blue Ribbon / Without having to sail to world’s end," he sings in "Blue Ribbon".
Never mind speeding across the Atlantic when it takes much more guts to heed the call of the "Captain's Daughter" and jump over board: "Brother if you want a free ride, give in to the water"
"To me these aren't really metaphors," Altziebler explains, "They stand for nothing, they define spaces, they're like verbal kindling. Images can make ideas abstract and spell them out in return."
Sometimes, e.g. in album closer "King of Cool", the lines in these images are blurred:
"And I wonder, would you make an effort
And I wonder, would you break the rule
The guideline of your master
Elusive king of cool
And let it show"
It's not clear if the main protagonist will drop his mask or rather go down the well-trodden path towards numbness and emotional blindness. But his description brings to mind his opposite number, the Firedancer we heard about earlier on, especially that other crucial line where Altziebler takes a clear stance, identifying with the cultural diversity of his roots in Graz whose gentle but persistent pull he only felt on the other side of the ocean. Or maybe even identifying with his deceased father:
"But I'm a firedancer too / I know anyway."
Son of the Velvet Rat - FIREDANCER | monkey. 2013
down a long flight of stairs to a place where the big fat lights don’t shine - we’ll light a big fat candle ‘cause it’s dark like a black hole in a coal mine - deep down in the belly of a ship that is sailing away - we can tell the mood of the ocean by the way our candle sways
awake & asleep & always aware of the dead - & the language they use when they speak deep in your head - sometimes it’s a whisper, sometimes it’s a storm in your soul - ‘cause when they speak, they speak in a rant that you can’t control
but what a sweet thing when it dawns on you that your love’s really your best friend - makes you feel like you’re winning the blue ribbon without having to sail to world’s end
all those painted faces smiling down from the planks above - they came to reveal the secret conjunction of loss & love - & if you can’t really seem to understand what they are trying to say - it will be coming to you with the logic of the flow that brings the new day
hurdy gurdy: Matthias Loibner; accordion: Heike Binder; drums: Anne Weinhardt; perc: Ken Coomer; guitar: Sasenko Prolić; bass: Albrecht Klinger; b-vocals: Gale Mayers, Angela Primm, Heike Binder; vocals, harmonica: G. A.
see that strange ship slowly coming up the river - see that strange ship pulling over for a spell - though you’re pretty sure you’ve never seen that kind of ship before - the riverboat captain seems to know you well
you see all kind of baggage floating on the river - you see pretty clothes, a pair of boots & a purse - you spot your own belongings among all the others - going downstream for some long forgotten curse
brother if you want a free ride, give in to the water - brother if you want a free ride, give in to the flow - brother if you want to make a vow to the captain’s daughter - it’s gonna be your turn now, you just say yes or no
the captain too, he’s got a brother & a sister - brother sun & sister moon, that is - they rise & shine & guide the captain’s daughter - who to spare & who to blow a kiss
guitar & trumpet: Kolja Radenković; perc: Ken Coomer; bass Albrecht Klinger; drums: Anne Weinhardt; sax: Jani Šepetavec; hurdy gurdy: Matthias Loibner; b-vocals: Vesna Petković, Heike Binder; piano: Fabio Schurischuster; guitar & vocals: G. A.
you can’t be with the dead and the living - & make a bed in the middle of nowhere - try & bridge that gap in your dreams - in the long long night - the city’s a permanent rumble - a subtle quake and a distant drone - the seasons have names - but they all look the same - black pearls on a thread
i’m a good son and my father’s a firedancer - when i’m done with the fire i’ll dance the ashes away - i say who am i to deserve this but i get no answer - but i’m a firedancer too – i know anyway
i remember the frail green of spring - & it makes me cling to the future - like a bird of passage left behind - clings to the wind
guitar & vocal: G. A.
came across my guardian angel - on my way to the grocery store - she always comes up with some answers - that i’ve not been asking for
i know she’s always on my side - if she’s got to take sides anyway - this time i knew what’s coming - & this is what she had to say
if you’re looking for love - it comes & it goes - claim it & crave it - it will not show - it grows in the nighttime - makes your day
do what you can - to make it stay
she must have been watching me struggle - she must have been watching me fail - all the sweet excuses gone sour - & the smell in the air gone stale
she says: my brother, be easy - if it takes too much to be true - i can’t reverse your sentence - but i’m not gonna tell on you
in the shine of a light bulb - in the damp of the room - in the wine & the incense - & the morning that looms - in sigh & in sadness - in flesh & in skin - in the bubble of anger - you’re living in
rhodes piano: Martin Gasselsberger; bass: Albrecht Klinger; hurdy gurdy: Matthias Loibner; trumpet & flugelhorn: Kolja Radenković; sax: Jani Šepetavec; drums: Anne Weinhardt; b-vocals: Gale Mayers, Angela Primm, Heike Binder; perc: Ken Coomer; guitars, harmonica, vocals: G. A.
day at the beach
a day at the beach – salt in the air - and the sea is blank and blue - it reminds me so of you - ‘cause your eyes were too - far away - blank and blue
how can i sit and think of you - and all the things you must have seen - when the sea - is rolling in - and the waves - they sing - sing and dance
seagulls in the sky - flying with the crows - where is my father now - maybe they know - lazy breeze is blowing - high in the pine trees - take this song and say - hello for me
stay with me – go with the tide - we may float and we may drown - lay and listen - to the sound - of the sun going down - and the sound of the sand
drums & percussions: Ken Coomer; bass: Albrecht Klinger; accordion & b-vocals: Heike Binder; mandolin: Kolja Radenković; hurdy gurdy: Matthias Loibner; b-vocals: Gale Mayers, Angela Primm; guitars & vocals: G. A.
king of cool
if you seek love - it may not find you - he’d say crap like that - out of the blue - no ambition anymore - you’ll be calm & sober - to the core
& i wonder, would you make an effort - & i wonder, would you break the rule - the guideline of your master - elusive king of cool - & let it show
strive after love - it will slip away - forget your needs - is what he’d say - things like that - can spike your mind - make you numb - & make you blind
drums: Anne Weinhardt; rhodes piano: Martin Gasselsberger; flugelhorn & mandolin: Kolja Radenković; perc: Ken Coomer; hurdy gurdy: Matthias Loibner; b-vocals: Gale Mayers, Angela Primm, Heike Binder; guitars, glockenspiel, vocals: G. A.
the hills in the distance seem so near - it takes more than a lifetime to get there from here - life here is slow – speed never pays - not in the heart of the city anyway
windowpanes shine in the night - all you see is trapped sunlight - you get caught in a trap when you follow the sun - there’s a trap in this city for everyone
come come, get a grip - on the hole in your heart - come come, try to rip it out & tear it apart - pick up the pieces, hang them high on the flagpole - come & get rid of that hole
craze on the freeway – calm in the ditch - scars on your shins they begin to itch - blind in the sun, you’re blind as a mole - though you need all that sun to fill up that hole
accordion & b-vocals: Heike Binder; bass: Albrecht Klinger; perc: Ken Coomer; drums: Anne Weinhardt; b-vocals: Gale Mayers, Angela Primm; guitars & vocals: G. A.
sing for the deaf
sing for the flowers - it smells like spring - cling to your tune - it’s a weapon that sings - aim at the shadows ‘til they go & disappear - they’re weak & they’re weary - & they know they don’t belong here - then sing for the gray & dreary newborn day - sing for the deaf at last
it’s a hitman’s poem - you shoot out the lights - then you go & put two little candles - in the window at night - through your gunsight - you see the bag lady & the blonde sweetheart - they’re coming at you - singing softly from across the yard - they’re enemy soldiers & they sing ‘til they fall - two make a choir sometimes
drums: Anne Weinhardt; space uke: Fritz Ostermayer; sax: Jani Šepetavec; bass: Albrecht Klinger; perc.: Ken Coomer; guitar: Sasenko Prolić; guitar & vocals: G. A.
friends with god
i need a new rabbit - to pull out of my hat - all i’ve conjured up now - are roadkill & rats
i try to be happy - i do the best i can - but things get in my way - every now & then
god – give me a reason - to be friends with you
you won’t hear me complain - i got to nurse my voice - but i’d reclaim my time - if i had a choice
don’t you shut down your business - before my bills are due - i’ll stand in line - i’ll wait for your cue
organ & b-vocals: Heike Binder; drums & perc: Anne Weinhardt; bass & guitar: Albrecht Klinger; sax: Jani Šepetavec; trumpet: Kolja Radenković; guitar & vocals: G. A.
there’s a place where i go when i’m lonely - a place where the black reeds sway - & the sunshine can’t touch my secrets - ‘cause it’s shady most of the day
& if you see me sitting quietly - & still by the edge of the pool - chances are you take me for a thinker - but then again you might think i’m a fool
but i’m just fighting the pull of temptation - fighting the sting of remorse - & i know this frail disposition - isn’t something that you would endorse
but hey, you could be my water lily - & hey, i could be your dragonfly - & the pond is slowly getting deeper - by & by
you’d meet my desire forever - but i can’t tell from where you respond - a reflection off the surface of the water - or down from the bottom of the pond
guitar: Sasenko Prolić; drums: Ken Coomer; organ & b-vocals: Heike Binder; perc: Anne Weinhardt; slide-guitar & bass: Albrecht Klinger; guitar: Kolja Radenković; b-vocals: Vesna Petković; guitar, tambourine & vocals: G. A.
Son of the Velvet Rat - "live tape"
Das neue Album von Son of the Velvet Rat dokumentiert einen denkwürdigen Abend im Wiener Porgy & Bess. Aufgenommen am 25. September 2013 zeigt es die stilistische Vielfalt der Band zwischen fragilem Songwriting und krachendem Garage-Rock. All dies mit der Energie eines besonderen Konzertereignisses vor vollem Haus.
Live Tape ist nicht nur das erste Live-Album von Son of the Velvet Rat, sondern gleichzeitig der erste Release auf dem hauseigenen Label RAT MUSIC/Hoanzl. Digital wird das Album von Monkey./Rough Trade vertrieben.
"Ich würde mich am liebsten jedes Jahr neu erfinden".
Georg Altziebler über das Album "Live Tape" als Momentaufnahme einer Band: Der Mastermind von Son of the Velvet Rat und seine Mitstreiter ließen es im Porgy & Bess unvermutet krachen.
Du hast Dich lange gegen ein Live-Album gesträubt. Was hat Dich nun bewogen, "Live Tape" herauszubringen?
Der Grund für ein neues Album ist, dass man neue Songs hat, die man gerne teilen möchte. Für ein Live-Album hingegen fehlt dieser Druck. Man will bloß einen Moment festhalten, im Idealfall einen besonderen Moment. Ich war im September 2013 mit der Band auf Tournee durch Österreich und habe die Konzerte im Porgy & Bess in Wien und tags darauf im Grazer PPC mitschneiden lassen. Auf "Live Tape" ist das Konzert im Porgy & Bess zu hören. Den Ausschlag gab der Sound, der eindeutig besser war.
Auch wenn Du keine neuen Nummern spielst, so versuchst Du zumindest immer wieder neue Interpretationen. Im Porgy & Bess hast Du knochentrockene Versionen von Songs der letzten drei Alben vorgestellt.
Das ist auch das Spannende: Dass man die Nummern jedes Mal, wenn man auf der Bühne steht, neu erfinden und mit neuen Bedeutungen versehen kann. Es ist manchmal nur eine Frage der anderen Betonung von Silben – und schon ändert sich die Energie.
2010 erschien als Bootleg die Live-CD "SotVR@Hotel Cafe". Du spielst zusammen mit Deiner Lebenspartnerin Heike Binder an den Keyboards und mit der Cellistin Helen Belangie; das Konzert ist sehr schwermütig. Ist "Live Tape" das Gegenstück dazu?
Das war damals kein Mehrspur-Mitschnitt, eine reguläre Veröffentlichung wäre für mich nicht in Frage gekommen. Ja, man könnte "Live Tape" als Gegenstück bezeichnen. Ich hatte eben die Band, daher stand der Ensemble-Sound im Vordergrund. Kammermusik versus Garage-Rock sozusagen.
Es gibt auf "Live Tape" nur einen einzigen ruhigen Song: Du spielst ohne Begleitung "Firedancer". Er wirkt fast wie ein Fremdkörper.
"Firedancer" war eigentlich die erste Zugabe. Aber mir gefiel es besser, wenn der Song mittendrin ist. Wir spielten etwa 20 Nummern, für das Album habe ich die für mich besten zehn ausgewählt. Daher musste ich mir eine neue Abfolge überlegen. Denn ich hab’ es zum Beispiel nicht gern, wenn zwei Nummern in A-Dur hintereinander folgen. Es ging mir darum, die Songs in einen stimmigen Bogen zu bringen. Das Album ist wie ein Mini-Konzert aufgebaut – und hört mit der letzten Zugabe auf, mit "All of My Senses" von Grant Hart, einem Song von seiner ersten Solo-Platte aus 1990. Er hat den Leuten offenbar gefallen. Hört sich zumindest so an.
Hast Du im Studio nachbessern müssen?
Nein. Fehler stören mich nicht, wenn die Energie stimmt. Es gibt aber zwei Overdubs. Albrecht Klinger spielte bei "Same Monkey" und "I am a Jet Pilot" Gitarre, mit einem Fuß-Keyboard legte er eine Bassfläche dazu. Es gab keine akzentuierte Line. Daher hat Albrecht bei diesen Nummern nachträglich den Bass draufgespielt.
Der Songwriter und der Rock-Musiker: Das sind die zwei der Seiten von Georg Altziebler?
Das ist für mich kein "Entweder/oder". Es gibt verschiedene Inkarnationen des Projektes. Ich will auch keine Festlegung auf einen Stil oder ein Genre. Es macht mir Spaß, Lärm zu machen. Aber ich will auch das Ruhige. Manche Songs kommen allein am besten. Heike liebt das Zerbrechliche, sie steht eher auf diesen Teil meiner Musik.
Ihr seid nun schon etwa ein Jahrzehnt zusammen. Hatte sie anfangs nicht Scheu sich einzubringen?
Ich habe sie schon ein bisschen drängen müssen ... Im Sommer 2004 spielte ich in Amerika etliche Konzerte: Los Angeles, Arizona, Colorado, Seattle und so weiter. Heike begleitete mich. Im Lauf der Zeit kannte sie die Lieder auswendig. Zum Schluss, in San Francisco, sang sie drei Nummern auch auf der Bühne mit. Das war der Anfang. Nun spielt sie Keyboards, Harmonium und Akkordeon: nie zu viel, so subtil wie notwendig. Heike ist eine großartige Musikerin. Ich spiele mit ihr auch im Duo. Da gibt es keine rhythmische Bass/Schlagzeug-Basis, es zählt der Song. Das ist auch sehr spannend. Ich möchte das eine nicht gegen das andere eintauschen. Das Konzert im Porgy & Bess ist eben nicht mehr und nicht weniger als eine Momentaufnahme mit der Band.
"Live Tape" erinnert phasenweise an Pure Laine, Deine erste Band.
Das höre ich gar nicht gerne. Aber ich verstehe es wegen des Rock-Kontextes.
Warum hörst Du das nicht gern?
Weil ich mit nichts zufrieden bin, was früher war. Am liebsten würde alles ungeschehen machen. Ich kann mir die alten Aufnahmen nicht anhören. Es fiele mir zu viel auf, was ich heute anders machen würde. Das heißt nicht, dass die Songs schlecht waren. "Burn" zum Beispiel ist gut. Ich glaube, ich habe ein paar wirklich gute Nummern in meinem Leben geschrieben, aber es selten geschafft, sie so umzusetzen, wie ich es mir gewünscht hätte. Die Form, die wir im Studio gefunden haben, wird ihnen nicht ganz gerecht. Das verstehen viele nicht, die diese Aufnahmen lieben, aber für mich ist es so. Zufrieden bin ich lediglich mit den letzten beiden Platten von Son of the Velvet Rat, da gibt es ein paar schöne Momente.
Woher kommt Deine Unzufriedenheit?
Ich kann die Frage nicht beantworten. Ist ein Maler je mit einem Bild zufrieden? Ein Regisseur mit einer Inszenierung? Wenn man eine Platte macht, muss man natürlich irgendwann sagen, dass sie fertig ist. Man muss sie so nehmen, wie sie dann ist. Aber denken sich nicht auch der Maler und der Regisseur später, dass sie dieses oder jenes anders hätten machen müssen?
Hat das mit Deiner klassischen Musikausbildung in Graz zu tun?
Nein. Ich hab mit zehn Jahren Geige zu lernen begonnen. Es war schrecklich. Einmal musste ich im Konservatorium kotzen. Dann hat mich meine Mutter davon erlöst. Ich kann mich noch gut an das Kratzen der Geige erinnern. Das Gitarrespielen hab’ ich mir dann selber beigebracht.
Was war der Auslöser dafür, dass Du Lieder schreiben wolltest?
Schwer zu sagen, ich hab’ viel Musik aufgesogen. Aber an eine Begebenheit kann ich mich gut erinnern. Ich war während einer Supplierstunde allein im Klassenzimmer. Ein Kassettenrecorder stand herum, ich drückte auf die Play-Taste – und es kam "I Want You" von Bob Dylan heraus. Das war ein magischer Moment.
Pure Laine gab es bis etwa 1994. Du sollst den Namen in Bloom geändert haben, weil niemand kapierte, dass Pure Laine französisch ist und "reine Wolle" bedeutet: Man verwechselte ihn mit "pure line".
Das stimmt, das hat mich gestört, aber der eigentliche Grund war, dass ich mich neu erfinden wollte. So kam es zu Bloom und dann zu Bloom 05. Ich würde mich am liebsten jedes Jahr neu erfinden. Aber das geht nicht, weil die Aufbauarbeit viel zu groß ist.
Ein Lied aus der Pure-Laine-Zeit kannst Du doch akzeptieren: "La vache qui rit" hast Du 2009 auf "Animals" nochmals interpretiert.
Ja, den Song wollte ich wieder ausgraben.
Und nach wie vor spielst Du den "Hotel Song", der erstmals 1995 auf dem Bloom-Album "Slow Star" erschien. Er ist auch auf "Live Tape" zu hören.
Ich mag den Song gerne. Er beschreibt ohne Metaphern ein paar Vorkommnisse, eigentlich nur einen Abend, in meinem Leben. Eine einfache Wahrnehmung niederzuschreiben habe ich nie gemacht. Daher ist der Song nach wie vor etwas Besonderes.
Bloom 05 erhielt für "Stills & Honey" viel Kritikerlob. Im Jahr darauf, 2002, erschien noch eine CD – und dann kam es zu einer wirklichen Veränderung: Dein neues Projekt zusammen mit Robert Kres nannte sich Some Velvet Morning.
Das ist ein Lied von Lee Hazelwood. Auf Dauer wollte ich aber nicht den Namen von einem Song eines anderen Musikers herleiten. Ich wollte einen Namen, der kompliziert ist, der abschreckt, der möglichst schwer zu merken und zu vermarkten ist. Daher Son of the Velvet Rat.
Stehst Du Dir manchmal selbst im Weg?
2003 kam auch "By My Side" heraus. Auf diesem Album spielst Du alle Instrumente selber. Danach hast Du zwei Platten in Nashville aufgenommen und mit Lucinda Williams gesungen. Du suchst immer einen Neuanfang – auch mit dem offiziellen "Bootleg" aus 2010. Und 2012 hast Du "It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll)" gecovert. Deine Version klingt deprimierend.
Vom Inhalt her hat die Nummer aber nichts mit meiner Situation zu tun. Das ist eben ein prototypischer Rock-Song. Wenn man sich solche Nummern hernimmt, dann will man sie in einen völlig anderen Rahmen stellen. Es hätte keinen Sinn, AC/DC links überholen zu wollen. Die gesamte CD "Reaper" besteht aus Coverversionen. Ich wollte etwas Reduziertes, Karges und Offenes – mit viel Raum zwischen den Tönen. Deshalb hab’ ich auch "Happy" von den Rolling Stones ausgesucht. Meine Versionen sind ganz weit weg vom Original.
Welche Veränderung planst Du nun?
Meine Musik soll "swingender" werden, vor allem im Bandkontext.
Viele Deiner Lieder handeln von der Liebe und der Sehnsucht. Könnte irgendwann der Punkt kommen, wo Du Dir eingestehen musst, nichts mehr Neues zu sagen zu haben?
Die Angst vor diesem Moment ist immer da. Und ja, ich will mich nicht wiederholen. Andererseits - Liebe ist nur ein Wort, aber es schwingt so viel mit. Die Liebe wird mich immer beschäftigen – wie auch der Tod. Bis ich selbst unter der Erde bin.