Audiac’s 2003 debut, Thank You For Not Discussing The Outside World, was produced by Hans-Joachim Irmler of Faust and continues to maintain a top-20 ranking on rateyourmusic.com’s trip-hop chart between Portishead and Massive Attack. The sound occasionally recalls the radio-ready freeze-dried chansons of Bowie or Björk, but its emotional nudity anchors it firmly in the tradition of performance art. With hooks, of course – Alexander Wiemer and Niklas David may be slaves to the self-assigned task of designing a musical universe from the inside out, but they have no intention of inhabiting it alone.
The new album – due out in 2014 – takes the duo even farther into the realm of musical abstraction. David weaves keyboards, samples and synthesizer into landscapes of shimmering harmony, then deconstructs them with powerful gestures of dissonance. Wiemer’s dynamic, jazz-inflected vocal stylings skate across frozen lagoons of polyphony or draw on the power of interjected rhythms. Ringer Anja Füsti provides commentary in the language of classically trained percussion. The only constant is drama.
“Beats are all about getting into a zone and staying there,” David explains. “To me, melody and harmony are the interesting part.” Increasingly, he says, Audiac takes its inspiration from Romantic and classical music. But there is nothing classical about their sound. Audiac has made a clear commitment to keeping art rock firmly straddled on the cutting edge of technology. As Greg Lake so eloquently put it, “You can change the world, but if you lose control, they will take away your T-shirt.”
Audiac’s live shows are legendary. As a performer, Wiemer melts women’s hearts and makes men’s balls cramp to the size of hazelnuts, a boon to bartenders everywhere. Only the necessity of staring fixedly at a bewildering array of sound generators saves David from sharing the audience’s fate: As his wife can attest, his T-shirt never leaves his body. The last time I saw Wiemer, I think he was wearing a stiff, transparent vinyl blouson over his erect nipples. But I can’t really say because I went blind that night. That is, if you get a chance to see where Audiac’s music comes from, don’t miss it. Headphones only tell half the story.