Life In Volcanoes


Nettwerk Records, 1991

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It might not always seem like it if you've read my reviews for any length of time, but I do like to listen to the occasionally quirky pop album. I don't necessarily mean novelty works, rather those albums that seem to be created under what others would see as chaos - and, in the end, coming forth with what turns out to be a beautiful piece of work.

With that thought in mind, let's turn in our hymnals to Life In Volcanoes from Povi. This debut album is an interesting combination of trance-like music and pop sensibility - and it's hypnotic enough to lock you in for numerous listens.

Life In Volcanoes is the final product of Los Angeles-based wunderkind Carmen Rizzo and Australia-based vocalist Cristina Calero. Developing the songs on this album happened through long-distance communications - something I know is not uncommon among band members, but rare for such a chemistry to work on the first try. Recorded in Los Angeles, the culmination of the two-continent collaboration (say my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 that five times fast) has a lot in common with much of the music you've undoubtedly heard - but is like nothing you've ever heard.

Confused yet? Don't be. Instead, let the music on Life In Volcanoes explain everything to you. From the mood-setting opener "Last Day Of Spring," Povi quickly throws things into creative overdrive on "Dragonflies," a song that, if there's any justice in this industry, should be burning up the alternative charts in no time flat. Calero's voice is perfectly suited for this material, and her lyrics are enchanting. The musicians assembled by Rizzo for this project (who are too numerous to name individually, but are people he's closely worked with in the past) likewise seem to be the key to unlock the music's inner beauty.

For a good portion of Life In Volcanoes, this magic continues to unfold. I'd be hard-pressed to find one track on this disc that I didn't like. From the almost chant-like texture on "Volcanoes" to the beauty of songs like "Hiroshima Sweet Eyes" and "Other People Sleep," Povi seem to know exactly how to hit the bull's-eye every time. (The one slip? Maybe that would be "Creatures," a song whose style just doesn't seem to fit with what the band did throughout the rest of the album. Fortunately, this is a short piece, and not a major faux-pas.)

Povi even has the good sense to know how to handle the hidden track - either a re-do or a repeat of "Dragonflies" - by having it kick off shortly after the last track fades out. If only other people who get their rocks off by throwing 20 minutes of silence in between the last song and the hidden track would get the drift.

Life In Volcanoes is an album that is undeniably charming, and one that should make Povi a household name in the world of alternative music. There are thousands of stories in the industry about groups who should have been bigger than they eventually became. Here's hoping that Povi is given a fair shake, and doesn't become another one of those stories.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nettwerk Records, and is used for informational purposes only.