Album Review: Haneke Twins – Astronaut

Deep down inside Switzerland’s CERN Laboratory, working hard on the Hadron Collider and the Higgs Bosun particle, a couple of scientists from Greece have found something else quite exciting. Paschalis Vichoudis (vocals and bass guitar) and Stefanos Leontsinis (guitars) are at the core of Haneke Twins – a post punk/shoegaze group that has just released a perfectly formed album, ‘Astronaut’, a collection of deeply satisfying and dark slices of gothic new wave.

Evoking and acknowledging a debt going back to Velvet Underground, via Joy Division, Bauhaus and Interpol, ‘Astronaut”s seven tracks are elegiac and transcendent, imposing and bold. Cold, arctic guitars rip through the songs like shards of ice, and a baritone voice thunders and chills: it really is post-punk of the highest degree.

This is a world of seedy late night bars, flickering neon lights and excess as an art form: restless, urgent and arched cabaret.

The title track launches us into the album with a melodic, glacial guitar riff and a sense of foreboding created by the deep, dark vocals. The sonorous vocals create a sense of gothic malevolence underpinned by the driving rhythms.

Single ‘Location Unassigned’ has rippled guitars and razor sharp bass over a lyrical themes of modern life, freedom and privacy with echoing impassioned vocals:

This is followed by another single ‘River’ which has celestial guitars – echoing, reverb-soaked and crystal sharp and a pulse-quickening ascent to a heavenly chorus. There are echoes of a syncopation that recalls (for me) the theme song to some sixties spy series invariable starring Roger Moore:

The pace is quickened with ‘Stuck in a Loop’ (a reference to the Hadron Collider perhaps?) and its frenetic pace and underlying feedback:

The album ends with ‘Speechless’ – my personal favourite – which is an imperious and elegant end to a great album with its textured instrumentation, vaulting melodies and haunting vocals.

Haneke Twins play live with fellow scientists/musicians I. Koukovinis, A. Kyritsis and M. Schenk. The album was recoded at Dudu Loft studio, Athens, Greece in autumn 2019 and it was mixed, mastered and produced by Costas Verigas (from Greek post- rock band Afformance).

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