Zeebee: Chemistry
Angelika Koehlermann

Apparently Austria native Zeebee wrote 187 songs during a three-year period starting in 1999. She then solicited Gerhard Potuznik in early 2003 to help her produce and release an album. The two sifted through her enormous pool of songs to create Chemistry, with Zeebee contributing lyrics and vocals to songs co-written with Loyal & Royal, Jeffrey Math, Jox, Scott McFayden, and Curd Durca. Of course, the voice is the first thing one notices, the kind one could easily imagine provoking equally passionate responses of love and hate. It's unquestionably distinctive, possessing a little-girl quality with a slightly rougher edge; imagine some warped blend of Billie Holiday, Julee Cruise, Kate Bush, and Gwen Stefani squeezed through a nasal filter and you'll have some idea of her vocal sound. It's certainly mixed prominently enough, judging by “Visit You” and “Soul Collateral” which sound as if she's cooing directly into your ear, and it's often multi-tracked, which renders it more palatable by lessening its nasal quality. Whatever reservations one might harbour about her voice are largely absent where the songwriting is concerned as it's consistently strong. The music is pop that's by turns moody, funky, and dramatic, and it's expansively arranged, with strings and horns providing grand embellishments and electronic touches subtly applied. Styles includes trip-hop (“Chemistry”), acoustic pop (“Truth”), and moody electronica (“Lost & Found”). Elsewhere the torch mystique of the bluesy “Tender” evokes the dramatic ambiance of David Lynch's Twin Peaks, while “Race” cooks up a percolating tech-house groove under her languid delivery. “Pain & Pleasure” overlays vocals on top of a slowed-down treatment of Curd Durca's “Giant Swing” from Elevator 3. Chemistry is a bold mix of disparate styles, but Zeebee's unique voice—love it or hate it—holds it together.

February 2004