Couch: Figur 5
Morr Music

Though new to Morr Music, Couch, a quartet consisting of Stefanie Böhm (Ms. John Soda) on keyboards, drummer Thomas Geltinger, bassist Michael Heilrath, and guitarist Jurgen Soder, isn't a new outfit, having issued material on Kitty-Yo and Kollaps since originating in 1995. In contrast to most 'post-rock' bands, Couch at times eschews the familiar loud-soft convention, opting instead to pitch songs at a singular level of intensity throughout a given song. While doing so distances the band from its stylistic kin, it also leavens the dramatic potential of its material. “Gegen Alles Bereit,” the opening piece on its fifth album Figur 5, opens aggressively and, aside from a quiet coda, remains there throughout. “Position: Wieder Eins,” by comparison, embraces the loud-soft cliché but attacks the song's choruses with such ferocity, one excuses the group for adopting the dynamic.

Remove the volume and one discovers material that's rather simple in construction, with basic melodies, typically melancholic in character, repeated throughout a given song, albeit with subtle variations. Couch also therefore departs from standard 'post-rock' practice by performing succinct songs instead of grandiose epics. What most recommends the group (and distinguishes it from its fellow Morr acts) is the impassioned force of its delivery, with slow-burners like “Alles Sagt Ja” rolling out with ten-ton splendor. Soder's guitars smother the material in a steady shoegaze roar while Böhm's piano voices the songs' core themes alongside Geltinger's cymbal-laden cyclone. The guitars gracefully rising and falling over the broad vistas of “Blinde Zeichen” show Couch can play delicately too. Note too that Figur 5 is entirely instrumental, the group presumably confident enough in its sound it opts not to factor Böhm's vocal talents into the Couch equation.

July 2006