I’d never heard of the band Phi before listening to their new album “Now
the Waves of Sound Remain”. When I began listening, I was immediately struck by the voice of singer Markus Bratusa, who sound remarkably like ex-Unitopia singer Mark Trueack, so much so I wondered if Phi was Trueack’s new band. This is a huge complement since I think Trueack has a rich, stately voice that has such power and depth. So Bratusa can really sing! He is also the band’s guitarist which, since this band is a power trio, makes him a huge part of what Phi sound like.
Phi classify themselves as Post Progressive Rock or Art Rock. Their music does have more of a rough edge because the band tend to not layer their music too much and keep it just the three members. The songs are direct musically with plenty of melody and crunchy guitar parts. Lyrically, the band is often commenting about modern society or relationships. The track “Welcome Tomorrow” often references modern life (“start a photo blog with pictures of your dog” or “fuck your yoga coach”) which is fine but my concern with any band that references modern culture is that culture does change. How will these lyrics hold up in 10-20 years? Consider some lyrics from 10-20 years ago, for example Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing.” At the time, it was massive because of the references to MTV but now it sounds like a novelty song.
Phi is an intelligent band and their lyrics, even if more about current life, are still powerful if not somewhat jaded. But that just adds to the overall realness of the band. As progressive rock bands go, Phi lack any sort of pretension. Musically they are a tight trio with a decidedly stripped down sound that makes them “rock” more than “prog.” Still, there is plenty of twists and turns along the way. The bottom line is that the band know how to write solid songs that have memorable riffs and easy to follow lyrics and concepts.
“Now the Waves of Sound Remain” is on RPWL’s personal label so the quality of the band needed to measure up to RPWL’s standard. RPWL sounds a bit like a modern day Pink Floyd and I suppose Phi are a modernized version of Genesis, without all the early fairytales of Peter Gabriel and all the late period drivel of Phil Collins. Fans of the modern prog scene should definitely check out this Austrian band.