Maybe its just me, but I find something quite funny in the fact that an Austrian band would name themselves after a nocturnal mammal that's native to Africa ... Maybe a band from Texas, but one from Austria ...
So this outfit's a complete unknown to me. I believe they were from Salzburg and based on the liner notes found on their self-released 1982 debut "Aardvarks" the line up featured lead guitarist Kurt Deixler, drummer Robert Jansky, keyboardist Johann Kastiner, rhythm guitarist Rico Pucher, singer Horst Trattnig, and bassist Michael Wagner. Technically I have to admit they sounded pretty good on this album. Deixler's work was impeccable throughout the album, while Kastiner had a subtle touch on keys, and the rhythm section of Jansky and Wagner were first-rate throughout. The one exception to that statement was lead singer Trattnig. Not that I would sound any better singing in German, but his voice was best described as an acquired taste. To my ears his vocals came of as flat and irritating.
- 'Spider Center' started out with a promising combination of Deixler guitar and Wagner bass ... It wasn't a particularly complicated pattern, but quickly got a good groove going. Shame it didn't stay an instrumental. Trattnig's flat, cast-off vocals (think drunk frat boy), really didn't add much to the song. Luckily his vocal contribution was brief. rating: **** stars
- 'Aardvarkistan' was a weird mishmash of styles including, blues, pop, AOR-jazz, and progressive moves. Kicked along by Johann Kastine's electric keyboard, the song started out with a slinky blues vibe, but suddenly changed direction morphing into a strange progressive section that showcased Deixler's guitar. By the way, I don't have a clue what the song was about. rating: *** stars
- Opening up with some beautiful Johann Kastine electric piano and Deixler's crystal clear lead guitar (his playing reminds me a bit of Jan Akkerman), 'The Huskie' started out as a pretty ballad, but then started jumping all over the map. When the song stuck close to the basic melody it was great, but when track headed off in weird progressive directions things turned south quickly. rating: *** stars
- Well, I know schwein translates as 'pig' ... The instrumental 'Schweinix Power Rock' started out as an energetic rock romp and midway through shifted gears into something out of the Robert Fripp treated guitar catalog. With a tinge of oriental flavor, it was actually kind of interesting. The song then switched back to the original rock orientation, before going out with some progressive moves and pig noises .... rating: *** stars
- 'China Frank' was another track that bounced all over the genre spectrum. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing since the band was tight throughout, with Deixler again acquitting himself well. Unfortunately Trarrnig's vocals were even more irritating than usual on this one. rating: ** stars
- 'Rob' opened up with what almost sounded like punk aggression (Trannig's voice sounding surprisingly good spewing out his frustrations), before migrating into a more mainstream rock direction that again focused on Deixler's doubled track lead guitar. Clocking in at over eight minutes, this one actually gave everyone an opportunity to stretch out in the spotlight. The track also served to showcase the band's secret weapon - namely drummer Jansky. rating: **** stars
Is this a lost classic? Nah, but it was way better than I expected. By the way, I'm sure none of you would let something like this effect you, but this one shows up in one of Hans Pokora's Record Collector Dreams books (I'm too lazy to look it up).
"Aardvarks" track listing:
1.) Spider Center (Kurt Deixler - Robert Jansky - Johann Kastiner - Rico Pucher - Horst Trattnig - Michael Wagner) - 4:00
2.) Aardvarkistan (Kurt Deixler - Robert Jansky - Johann Kastiner - Rico Pucher - Horst Trattnig - Michael Wagner) - 6:23
3.) The Huskie (Kurt Deixler - Robert Jansky - Johann Kastiner - Rico Pucher - Horst Trattnig - Michael Wagner) - 8:00
1.) Schweinix Power Rock (instrumental) (Kurt Deixler - Robert Jansky - Johann Kastiner - Rico Pucher - Horst Trattnig - Michael Wagner) - 5:00
2.) China Frank (Kurt Deixler - Robert Jansky - Johann Kastiner - Rico Pucher - Horst Trattnig - Michael Wagner) - 6:40
3.) Rob (Kurt Deixler - Robert Jansky - Johann Kastiner - Rico Pucher - Horst Trattnig - Michael Wagner) - 8:05