In keeping with its Trialog title, Anna Müller and Paul Wallner conceptualized their second HVOB (Hervoiceoverboys) album effort as an interdisciplinary project that would combine their music with visuals (interactive installations and video) by contemporary artist Clemens Wolf and the visual collective lichterloh. The album material is set to be presented in a multi-dimensional audio-visual form during HVOB's upcoming world tour.
In terms of album content, each of the ten pieces focuses on a particular physical process (tearing, mixing, bursting, melting, oxidizing, breaking, imploding, etching, bending, burning) that Müller and Wallner have attempted to translate into musical form. Being a CD only (as opposed to DVD featuring music and video), the physical release obviously doesn't present a preliminary version of what that full audio-visual experience will be like, but it still does a pretty good job of suggesting it by accompanying the CD with a black-and-white mini-booklet containing photographs that allude to the physical processes. It's up to the listener to decide whether he/she wishes to contemplate the project's conceptual background whilst listening to Trialog or set it aside to experience the hour-long album on purely musical grounds.
Trialog is very much a late-night kind of album, one whose soothing songs purr seductively, and the polished tracks, fusions of pop vocal melodies and clubby dance rhythms, certainly make a strong enough impression without an accompanying visual dimension. The syncopated thrust of its rhythms and percussive detail lends the opener “Azrael” a kind of sensuality and tension that bodes well for the album in general, and the sensitivity Müller and Wallner demonstrate in the way they artfully configure the elements impresses, too. Enhancing the gleaming synthesizers and electronic textures are acoustic sounds: well-timed handclaps, piano shadings, and Müller's delicate vocal whisper. The latter in particular is one of Trialog's defining sounds, and while her vocal delivery isn't ineffective, the range of expression—at least insofar as it's presented on this release—would, in a perfect world, be greater.
The non-vocal elements, however, go a long way towards compensating for whatever expressiveness the singing lacks, especially when the infectious grooves in drama-filled moodpieces such as “The Anxiety to Please” and “Ghost” have such snap. There's a slow-burn quality to the duo's intoxicating material (see “Clap Eyes” as one example), and representative cuts such as “Cool Melt” and “Oxid” shuffle along at an entrancing mid-tempo lope that makes listening to the album a pleasure. Put simply, Müller and Wallner aren't wanting in the sound sculpting, arranging, and tension-building departments.