Knock on Wood brings back delicious memories. Back in the '60s, Eddie Floyd reached the top of the charts with the same title, with his raw and charming brand of soul and R&B. Four decades later, The Young Gods's new album has nothing to do with southern soul music, yet their Knock on Wood has soul, and stands apart in the group's exciting discography.At first glance, it seems odd to find these digital pioneers involved in an acoustic project. A year ago, they had just released their previous album, the electric and entrancing Super Ready/Fragmenté, when an arty magazine based in Zurich asked them to keep a soundtrack journal of their travels (Truce Diaries). Franz Treichler, Al Comet and Bernard Trontin used the opportunity to offer their fans several low-key concerts during which they revisited old songs ("Our House", "Gasoline Man", "Charlotte"), reframed new ones ("I'm the Drug", "Everythere"), and covered a few classics (Richie Haven's "Freedom", Jimi Hendrix's "If Six was Nine", Suicide's "Ghost Rider", Radiohead's "Everything in its Right Place"). The approach was psychedelic blues folk combined with electronic minimalism. Surprised and delighted to see the kings of sampling "playing real instruments" and warming the wood of their guitars, the audiences asked for more. Several shows later, the Gods started thinking about a live acoustic recording, but felt the whole concept could be up-graded. They asked Vincent Hänni, the guitar prodigy who accompanied them during the live gigs, to join them in a recording studio, and they got down to work the old-fashioned way, playing and recording acoustic instruments. The end result, published under the title Knock on Wood, is an exciting and accessible work that demonstrates the wide range of sonic investigation undertaken by this extra-ordinary and atypical rock group. A DVD of the group playing live accompanies the CD.
The album's 11 tracks are arranged with vintage know-how, and played with raw energy and humility. In an atmosphere of psychedelic celebration, Franz Treichler's voice sounds warm, precise and strong, and his accomplices underscore the healing power of his chants. The exquisite quality of the sound recording reveals details that would otherwise be lost in a live performance. "Ghost Rider" sounds like a bona fide shamanic incantation. From "Our House" to "Skinflowers", the music reveals the full extent of The Young Gods' creativity and complicity. The harmonies have intoxicating power. On percussion, Bernard Trontin consistently delivers madness and novelty. With his enchanted sitar, Al Comet serves up pure hypnosis. And instrumentalist Vincent HHÃnni finds multiple ways of raising the stakes and transcending his colleagues' exchanges. Like old vinyls that got played over and over again, Knock on Woodhas the faculty of transporting listeners to another world. Don't miss the opportunity.