The Magnificent Tree

Label(s):Columbia, Sony Music Entertainment Belgium
Label code:COL 498 242 2
Aanwezig in Muziekcentrumja


2.Mad about you
4.Jackie Cane
5.The Magnificent Tree
6.Vinegar & Salt
7.Frosted Flake Wood
8.Every Time We Live Together We Die a Bit More
9.Out of sight
10.Pink Fluffy Dinosaurs
11.L'odeur animale


Uit het Belgische pop- & rockarchief:

I must admit : I'm no fan of Hooverphonic. I do consider them among the best of contemporary Belgian bands, and think they could well be the smartest bunch of instrument-playing people around these parts, but their music has never made my heart skip a beat, never has given me a chill up my spine. The only exception to this "Hooverphonic leaves me cold"-rule so far was "Eden" of the last album. With "The Magnificent Tree", the number of exceptions has quadrupled : the really smart & contagious surf-pop on "Jackie Cane" (which even includes a children's choir without even making you think of Pink Floyd), the mysterious atmosphere conjured by the synths and Geike's Beth Gibbons impersonation on "Every Time We Live Together, We Die A Bit More", and the warm wave of strings that blows from "Mad About You" like a warm wind on a starlit night.
"Lush" is the word that kept coming to my mind, when I heard "the Magnificent Tree" for the first time. Lush not so much in the sense of "fresh", but in the sense of "opulent". The production resembles rococo architecture, cramming every nook and cranny of the good songs with every conceivable synth and lick and violin and sample around. And that's exactly what's putting me off, and absorbing most of the emotions that Hooverphonic could have given me. It's frightfully well done, it sounds great at first, but in the end it's just "too much".
On the other hand, there is the joyous constatation that Geike has really lived up to the task at hand (this is the first album which she has to "carry" on her own, as Liesje Sadonius was still around at the time of recording the previous album), the way she sounds different from song to song, from atmosphere to atmosphere, is remarkable. And there is the fact that this album relies on more solid song material than on atmospherics and ambient than before.
So, Hooverphonic is still not "my thing", but they are edging closer with each album.
In de pers :

- Greil Marcus on : "The insinuating, vaguely diseased moods that singer Lieske Sadonius brought this Belgian techno-exotica combo caught the nervousness that lay beneath the earliest Paris new wave movies. With Geike Arnaert in front, they've moved on to catch the very essence of the cheesiest "La Dolce Vita" knockoffs, which is to say Italian vacation films."
- Bert Leijssen voor Uptomusic : "Met 'The Magnificent Tree' legt Hooverphonic de lat meteen erg hoog voor andere Belgische en, ja zelfs internationale, groepen die zich met hen willen meten. ... Interessant om vaststellen is trouwens dat Geike heel wat vocale vooruitgang geboekt heeft: nu eens lieflijk (in het mooie 'Waves'), dan weer overgevoelig (in het titelnummer), maar steeds met een duidelijke identiteit én in een onberispelijk Engels."
- jf voor Docrock "... Die Musik beschwört mit jedem Song eine eigene kleine Welt herauf. Selbst Hörer mit Phantasiearmut dürften hier keine Schwierigkeiten haben, in Seelenbildern zu schwelgen. ... Wer Träumerisches, Sentimentales und Romantisches mag, wird hier eine Platte finden, die mit viel Liebe schöne Stunden zum sinnlichen Abhängen bereitet."
- Kevin John on Sonicnet : "Hooverphonic's sound has become increasingly hip and cosmopolitan, slowly processing out everything that made it so alluring in the first place. ... It's still sleek and meticulously produced. But, as with the latest from Morcheeba (another band with similar trip-hoppy proclivities), the nagging sense of something menacing behind these songs has practically disappeared. ... Arnaert sounds too cutesy or fashionably aware, Callier has provided her with more embarrassments than exotic thickets — and The Magnificent Tree feels like a trek through something lame like "The Phantom Menace.""
- Out Soon : "Wat Hooverphonic onderscheidt van de gemiddelde Britse imaginary soundtrack-band, is het belang van de song. Voorman Alex Callier hamert er voortdurend op: eerst de melodie, dan de speciale geluidjes. Die visie maakt van 'The Magnificent Tree' de minste hippe maar meest tijdloze plaat van het trio uit Sint-Niklaas."
- amc in Rif-Raf (vl) "Goed, goed, goed. Misschien komt dit niet geloofwaardig over van iemand die graag naar Hooverphonic luistert, maar The Magnificent Tree is een goede plaat."
- lq in Rif-Raf (wal) "... arrachez leur ces sampleurs et autres synthés, ces arrangements lourds, aigres et supireux, ces violons "post-Portishead", ces boîtes à rhythmes de Massive Attack de Heist-op-den-Berg. La production de "The Magnificent Tree" tue dans l'oeuf des chansons qui méritaient plus d'économie et d'intimité ...."
- Peter van Dijck in Knack-Focus : "Hooverphonic, popambassadeur uit het Waasland, is een groeier. ... The Magnificent Tree is alweer een stap vooruit. De groep slaat erin om met invloeden uit alle mogelijke era's en genres een sfeervolle plaat te smeden".
- Tom Peeters in Teek : "Hooverphonic stapt met zijn derde album helemaal af van het ijle, eendimensionale geluid dat hun mooie debuut typeerde. Meer zelfs, de variatie in de composities en stemmingen is de grootste troef die de groep op tafel kan leggen. ... Een album waar het bijna drie kwartier goed toeven is."

(Auteur: Dirk Houbrechts)

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