Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld: Nerissimo

Enigmatic chamber masterpiece from this Italo-German outsider alliance.

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Based in Berlin, Blixa Bargeld first appeared over 30 years ago with the stage-destroying carnage of Einsturzende Neubauten, then gouged Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds with his ghostly guitars.

Italy’s Teardo ploughed a similarly outsider path after forming a band called Meathead, then finding his feet composing electronic soundtracks. The pair opened up a shadowy new world when they teamed up to record 2013’s Still Smiling, followed by Spring in 2014. This third album, inspired by a 16th-century Holbein painting with a title meaning ‘The blackest’ in Italian, shows their mission fully flowering as they build deeply evocative atmospheres using muted, spectral accompaniment, sepia chamber strings and woodwinds, including the magnificent bass clarinet. Set against the eerie strings of Animelle, its subterranean croak can evoke more dark power than any full-bore guitar bombast. Blixa sings in English, Italian and German, and his voice is still a unique creature, like a barroom devil on the shoulder, intoning with warm malevolence as it drapes itself over songs such as The Beast and the title track. All told, a deep winter masterpiece which shows how much life there can still be in music.