Doris Brendel & Lee Dunham - 'Not Utopia' (Sky Rocket Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Russ P   
Tuesday, 19 February 2013 03:30

doris-brendel-not-utopia-176pxIn the current climate of subversive and quirky female artists I always come back to the mother of them all - the one and only Kate Bush - and I continue to marvel that she was truly was out there on her own completely unlike anyone else. This is in stark contrast to the 'subversive' acts of today whose dress sense is the only thing risqué about them and which disguises an otherwise plainly commercial sound.


I wouldn't put Doris Brendel in either category really but I get the strong feeling that she's more in the Kate Bush category than the latter. Listening to the opening track 'No Lonely Girl' I don't feel that she's trying to fit in with any currently accepted genre. She's doing her own thing - which you can't help but admire. The fuzzy bass, the briefly eccentric musical flourishes put me in mind of Rob Dougan's 'Furious Angels' in collaboration with Sam Brown.


With the second track 'Ebay' I begin to shudder at the thought of the lyrical content as I tend to cringe when cultural references are put to music. But I needn't have worried. Doris knows what she's doing. She makes it work for her. The song starts in bizarre fashion with essentially someone else singing the song for her - Lee Dunham's part perhaps? - before the song segues out of this acoustic red herring into Doris's own take on it. Doris unashamedly mixes up unhip 80s pop synth sounds with an incredible sense of melody, rhythm and tone as she sings: "I keep my fingers crossed, I keep hoping for…"


'Drawing The Line', with its jaunty acoustic intro, reminds me of Tanita Tikaram and Tasmin Archer but Doris Brendel's voice has that slightest hint of grit that gets me thinking of Kim Carnes. But overall it's Sam Brown that I keep coming back to. And also The Violet Hour who were tied to Sam Brown via…wait a minute…my ears do not deceive me…rather they remember the unmistakable stamp of Doris Brendel…I just didn't know her by name. Sadly this is the first time that I've thought of The Violet Hour since the early 90s. I still have that album. Really! Funny how this album arrived on my desk from the masters at Über Röck Towers - how did they know? Maybe it's the 'Eye of Sauron' sitting on top of those evil towers. I thought it was just a replica prop.


Interesting fact: Doris Brendel is the daughter of the classical pianist Alfred Brendel. Impressive. So it suddenly all starts to make sense: talented, experienced woman doing her own thing.


'Going Out' out is a curious mix of Goldfrapp, Donna Summer and Stereophonics without ever really sounding completely rocky or completely disco. And the same applies, sans Donna Summer, to 'Passionate Weekend' which takes its time building from a call and response between piano and guitar. It has the in-between wakefulness and sleep feeling of Goldfrapp's 'Seventh Tree'. Although it does wake up into a kind of manic toccata towards the end.


'Too Bad To Be Good' is the kind of show tune hybrid that Alice Cooper used to excel at. It's a little Toto, a little Supertramp and a little vaudeville. Such eclecticism continues throughout the album with the title track sounding like a Lene Lovich and Skunk Anansie collaboration.


At the end of the album I am left with the nagging question of what Doris might sound like with a different production approach but it's also fair to say that from The Violet Hour to this current album there's a consistency in sound - a signature sound if you will. And that's not a bad thing to own.


To visit the Doris Brendel store on Amazon - CLICK HERE