Genre/Influences: Electro-Pop, Dance-Pop, Indie-Electro-Pop.
Format: Digital, 2CD.
Background/Info: “Bittersweet” is the final part of a trilogy which started with the album “Lightflare” (2018) followed by “Soul Searching” (2019). But the work is also meant to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Belgian project. There’s a bonus disc featuring fifteen surprising songs while the digital version reveals fourteen extra tracks.
Content: The working formula of Psy’Aviah hasn’t really changed. Yves Schelpe composes the music while working with an impressive list of guest singers. The opening piece again features cavernous, spoken vocals by Dutch psychiatrist Dirk De Wachter. It’s a dark, dreamy intro followed by twelve, mainly, danceable cuts. The songs are meticulously elaborated and mainly Dance-driven, sometimes reminding me of the magic of Delerium. Olivya Nicole, Mari Kattman, Saydi Driggers, Lumi, Huong Su, Maysa, Marieke Lightband, Tina Forlorn, Eli Rho (2 songs), Rebecca Schneider and Addie Nicole contributed guest vocals while there also guest artists featured playing violin and cello. Notice by the way the tracklist features 2 ‘older’ reworked songs.
The bonus disc features Psy’Aviah songs taken from the wide discography of the band which have been all reworked -and in a way covered by an impressive list of artists. Madil Hardis, The Breath Of Life, Clairval, Your Life On Hold, IC434 (2 songs), Digital Factor, Aesthetische, KC Woong, Implant and Leather Strip contributed to this celebration while you’ll also hear collaborative tracks with Implant, Cat Hall and Bow Ever Down.
The digital format reveals extra songs featuring 808 Dot.Pop, Impulse Control Disorder, Fakzillity, Llumen, Miseram Mortem, Designer Violence, Hartung & Schleinitz, Y-Luk-O, Cosmic Armchair, Huilende Wolf, The Breath Of Life and Leather Strip plus 2 collaborative cuts together with Leather Strip and Implant.
+ + + : The main strength of “Bitter Sweet” is its ‘easy listening’ format. Psy’Aviah is nearly impossible to label -although hardly driven by a very personal approach of Dance music, but simply following its path. The project has seriously evolved throughout the years and the sound often appears a true challenge. The composition is well-crafted, styled, sensual for the slow rhythms and here again reveals an interesting and diversified list of talented singers. “Can we Make It Rhyme ” featuring Mari Kattman is a great piece of music reminding me a bit of Delerium. And I also want to mention “Tired” which is an older song that has been reworked and features passionate vocals by Addie Nicole (Hallocene).
I also have to salute the original concept of the bonus disc (and bonus songs for the digital edit) where the artists totally reworked the older Psy’Aviah songs while putting their own voice on it. The result is diversified but I especially recommend both cuts by IC434 and the one by Your Life On Hold.
– – – : The main strength of Psy’Aviah also appears to be its biggest weakness; hard to label and sometimes dangerously moving to the edge of pure ‘commercial’ Dance music. That’s why I often wonder if this is the right scene and label for this project? The bonus songs are a pretty cool commemoration although I’m missing Emélie Nicolaï who was the singer of the band during the first decade.
Conclusion: Psy’Aviah remains a true challenge although we can’t be unmoved by the creativity, ideas, concept and sound intelligence of this artist.
Best songs: “Can we Make It Rhyme”, “Tired – Rediscovered”, “Cold Summer Nights”, “The Wildness In Me” + “Broken Child” (IC 434), “Anger Management” (IC 434), “Our Common End” (Your Life On Hold), “The Worst In Me” (Leather Strip), “Wild Ride” (Llumen).
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