(23 November 2004) Tenfold Loadstar are a three-piece based in Hamburg, Germany consisting of Caro Garske (vocals/guitar), Bjoern Matthias (drums/electronics) and Felix Wiesner (guitar/vocals). Mellow Garden (L'age D'or LADO 17115-2, 2004) is their second album; the first, simply entitled, Tenfold Loadstar was only available in their home country, and this one may be a little hard to find, but believe me, it's worth the effort.
It's not an easy album to review because every track is distinctive--it simply doesn’t lend itself to overall comparisons, yet the whole is given unity by Caro Garske's astonishing voice.
It's extremely melodic, could at times be considered as minimalist indie pop or rock, but that would be to ignore the ambient, electronica and occasional dance influences. And one can't really escape the notion there's some alt folk, alt pop and alt country hiding in the speakers as well. The whole thing is sheer alchemy.
The album kicks off with the hook laden "High From Down" a stunning melodic pop song with Caro sounding not unlike Tanya Donelly, and goes straight into the single "Sun And Rain" with its sparsely arranged verse and lovely chorus underpinned by a discrete string line. And so it goes.
Sometimes the music sounds like Mazzy Star crossed with Massive Attack, (if you can get your head round that) at other times a little like Saint Etienne, or more specifically on "New Young" where they get to sing "hey hey, my my, rock and roll can never die," like Saint Etienne mixed with a good dose of Neil Young (and of course, Saint Etienne covered Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" so I guess there’s a tradition here).
Even the backing vocals are various and strange, moving from spoken words on the opening song to some whispers and the guys offering some distinctive harmonies on "Rockers." On "Umbrella" there's some ethereal singing of Bacharach and David's "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head," and on the acoustic “Little Planet" Caro offers her own unsettling vocal harmony. I mean, it’s not often you can recommend a CD on the strength and imagination of the backing vocals alone is it? Not that that is all that’s worth hearing – every note played, every word sung, every weird electronic beep is part of a spell-binding whole.
It’s a genre-bending album, impossible to categorize. On first hearing each track leaves you a little confused but with a feeling that you’ve just heard something extraordinary if only you knew quite what it was-- but you do know you’re going back for more. It’s a CD best approached with opens ears and an open mind. Tenfold Loadstar appear capable of doing anything and prepared to attempt everything. Wonderful.--Jamie Field in Kington, England