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Sometimes as a band you may feel as soon as you enter the stage that it could be a special evening. And sometimes there are those magical evenings when everything simply fits: the technology works, the audience goes along and the musicians are bubbling over with joy of playing. That’s how it must have been on 28 March 2019 in the live club “Das Rind” at Subsignal’s live concert. And fortunately someone pressed “record” in time.
Most current live albums, with their polished chrome high gloss sound, perfect performance and artificially mixed in stadium cheers, deny the actual idea of the live album: to capture the atmosphere of the concert on this one evening, with everything that goes with it.
With their live album “A Song for the Homeless – Live in Rüsselsheim 2019” Subsignal prove impressively that after six studio albums they have matured enough musically (and conceptually) to make an authentic and impressive live album.
They did not succumb to the temptation to play the musically complex material live on stage as perfectly as possible and as close to the studio sound as possible.
Instead, the line-up around Arno Menses on vocals, Ralf Schwager on bass, Markus Maichel on keys, Dirk Brand on drums and Markus Steffen on guitar presents itself as an authentic musical organism, performing its own pieces live with heart, dynamics and an incredible joy of playing. On “Songs for the Homeless” you can literally hear and feel that the current line-up of Subsignal has been playing together constantly for several years.
The musical qualities of Subsignal are staged by the extremely energetic and transparent mix of producer/mixing engineer Yogi Lang with a great sense for the dynamics of the pieces. You can also hear and feel that he understands Subsignal’s music and is familiar with the band, since he produced and mixed Subsignal’s last studio album “La Muerta” (together with Kalle Wallner).
The setlist of “A Song for the Homeless – Live in Rüsselsheim 2019” reflects Subsignals diverse musical facets, ranging from innovative progressive rock to AOR and metal to pop. Determining elements of Subsignals music are a certain melancholy paired with virtuosity, emotional melodic passages and a deep understanding of complex arrangements.
“A Song for the Homeless – Live in Rüsselsheim 2019” contains some songs from “La Muerta”, but also songs from older albums, such as the opener “Touchstones” from the 2011 album of the same name or “The Sea”. Even a complex piece like “The Passage” with its many different parts, acoustic guitars and Dirk Brand’s drum solo is performed with ease by the band and is one of the absolute highlights of the album.
Only a few live albums succeed in capturing the magic of the moment and give the listener the feeling of having lived this one magical evening live with the band and the audience. “Live in Rüsselsheim 2019” is one of those rare albums that succeeds in this feat. At the same time, the live album documents the impressive musical diversity and virtuosity that characterizes Subsignal’s music. It’s the ideal album for beginners to get to know Subsignal as a band and for fans it is an opportunity to experience the well-known repertoire in a new way. Almost as if you had been in Rüsselsheim.
|Release||22 May 2020|
|LP 2Vinyl Gatefold (lim. Ed. coloured)||GAOM065LP|
|Label||Gentle Art Of Music|
Voyage of discovery
It took Subsignal a good two years, but now they are finally back and ready to release their new album “La Muerta.” On it, as to be expected with the former Sieges Even duo Markus Steffen and Arno Menses, the German band sends the listener on a proper voyage of discovery that is as complex as it is eventful. Subsignal have consciously designed the path to “La Muerta” a tad more accessible than was the case with the predecessor…
It is the fundamental rule in Subsignal: the band always resets the focus and overhauls the pressure points from album to album. That is why in the run-up to “La Muerta” the German outfit did not only sign a new record deal with Gentle Art of Music, but the five-piece also made a decision in favor of a modified approach in terms of the project’s artistic priorities. While on earlier releases the band still lit up the literal torch to lead the audience’s way through the tricky pathways of the delicately tangled progressive rock-undergrowth, this time, despite several hints of assistance here and there, Subsignal indeed put their trust in the power of the songwriting as well as the intuition of the listener. The band’s signature energy is no less essential than ever before, but its unique presence has transformed and taken on a significantly more subtle role. The same goes for the technical sophistication of the musical implementation: it is still a driving force but it no longer lunges right into the listener’s face. Much more it clandestinely sneaks up from the – only seemingly! – diffuse atmosphere to ultimately spread with all the force that fans and critics alike have praised.
As a counter-pole against its enormously intense predecessor, “The Beacons of Somewhere Sometime”, the creation of “La Muerta” was influenced by a significantly more instinctive approach. The band put the emphasis on transparence in material and production – which inevitably demands the subconscious collaboration of those on the receiving end – in this case: the listener. It is a bold approach: one that is not only testament to Subsignal’s great confidence in its songwriting but also of the appreciation that the band has for its listeners. “La Muerta” proves: risk big and you can win big!
In his lyrics Markus Steffen tackles very personal issues. And in the process he skillfully masters the tightrope act of offering words of great honesty – without playing it safe and drifting into mere ‘poetry of the sensitivities.’ It goes for the album’s lyrics as well as the music: Subsignal’s new record is nothing less than a comprehensive piece of art that does not only radiate great emotionality but also maintains a degree of necessary distance with regards to its own truth. “La Muerta” inevitably touches the listener, but it never forces its audience into a preconceived pattern of thought or perception. On this record, the band lead a clear lyrical way – but it is up to the listener to find, discover and experience the essence of “La Muerta” by means of one’s own eyes and ears.
The current lineup, consisting of Markus Steffen (guitar), Arno Menses (vocals), Ralf Schwager (bass), Markus Maichel (keyboards) and Dirk Brand (drums), has remained unchanged for quite some time and thus become a precisely harmonized team of perfection. It is obvious: the micro-adjustments of musical and mechanical aspects no longer required tending to. Much more “La Muerta” showcases a well-oiled fellowship that passionately puts every last bit of energy into the macro-process of painting the big picture. A new album might always start out as a journey into the unknown, but there is not a shadow of a doubt: right from the beginning the minds behind Subsignal had a very clear idea of where “La Muerta” would take them and how they would get there.
Production duties were put into the hands of RPWL’s Yogi Lang and Kalle Wallner. The duo has demonstrated great intuition and provided the songs with enough air to breathe and unfold – without restraining the fascinating density that adds another dimension to that multilayered voyage of discovery that is “La Muerta.”
The paths have been marked, the supplies are packed. This is where the adventure starts – enjoy the ride!
|Media||CD (Digipak mit Hochprägung)||GAOM058|
|LP 2Vinyl Gatefold||GAOM058LP|
|Label||Gentle Art Of Music|
Marjana Semkina, vocals (Track 11)
Markus Jehle, piano (Track 11)
Kalle Wallner, additional guitars
Yogi Lang, additional keyboards