Quick Look

Pina, 2002

Songwriters have often travelled far and wide in search of inspiration. But the crazy journey undertaken by Austrian singer, songsmith and musician Pina Kollars is unusual by anyone's standards. Raised in Vienna, she studied classical guitar at the city's Conservatorium and could easily have chosen a career as a full-time classical instrumentalist or music teacher.

But, seven years ago, Pina opted for a dramatic change of scenery. Armed with just her guitar and a few songs - and accompanied by her then husband Helmut and their baby daughter Luise Magdalena - Pina moved from the Austrian capital to West Cork.

The culture shock, even for a woman who was 'looking for something different', was enormous. Having given up the monumental Viennese skyline for rolling Irish hills and a windswept coast, Pina at first struggled to come to terms with her new-found isolation: unwilling to sing her intimate songs in the noisy local pubs, she was also unable to tour on account of the area's poor transport links.

'It took a long time to get used to the rural mentality,' she says. 'When I first arrived in Ireland, there were so many sheep that I thought the locals must spend their lives knitting. But it's not quite like that. People come to County Cork with their dreams. There are painters and sculptors living there - and eventually I found a way to fit in.'

Raised by her extended family in Austria - her mother was just 16 when she was born - Pina began writing songs in her teens. Her influences then, as now, included David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones and Cat Stevens. The names are legendary, of course, but the young singer wasted no time in putting her own, highly individual stamp on their legacy.

Making a living from music in Austria was difficult. Financially stifled by a law which demanded compulsory health insurance for artists, Pina and Helmut, an illustrator of children's books, moved to Ireland in 1997.

Inspired by her new environment, Pina's songwriting blossomed and she was soon showcasing her talent for representatives of the London music business. With little Luise often by her side on these flying visits to the capital, she quickly built herself a formidable reputation among London's talent spotters. 'A ball that had been standing still for an eternity suddenly began moving, and a lot of interest was coming in,' she says. Her burgeoning creativity was further rewarded with a British tour supporting Ani di Franco and a beautiful duet with Afro Celt Sound System's Iarla O Lionaird on the latter's Real World album, Further In Time.

So impressed were Real World with Pina's contribution to the song, Go On Through, that they offered her the opportunity to cut her own album, Quick Look, for the label. By the time she was making the record, however, Pina was facing up to the aftermath of a painful divorce from Helmut, a separation that she went on to examine in heartbreaking detail on the album.

Reviews

  • Pina's 'Quick Look' deserves a long listen 'The fascinating Austrian performer is possessed with a such a gripping spirit on her debut... spellbinding vocals in a surreal folk context.' Knoxville News-sentinel (USA)
  • 'Intriguing vocallist Pina Kollars makes a strong solo debut... Kollars' gritty feline vocals harken back to folk legend Melanie, while her tuneful material smartly juggles alt rock, gothic folk and "psychedelic almost country"'. Philadelphia Daily News (USA)
  • 'With confessional lyrics and earthy production, Quick Look is an honest and unusual singersongwriter album ...' Arizona Republic (USA)
  • ‘Das Debutalbum QUICK LOOK verdient weit mehr als einen kurzen Augenblick, denn ihre Songwritertalente können sich nicht nur mit denen Tori Amos and PJ Harvey messen. Vielmehr läßt sie den Hörer mit ihren überaus persönlichen Songs an ihrem Leben teilhaben.’ Alternative Music Zine (Germany)
  • ‘Hört mann QICK LOOK möchte man sich gleichzeitg verlieben aber auch aufbrechen, um die Welt neu zu entdecken.’ City Guide KÖln (Germany)
  • ‘Pinas Gesang ist so beeindruckend wie die phantasievollen Arrangements und reich musikalischen Stilrichtungen, die das Bild von Qick Look bestimmen. Man denkt beim Hören an Muisker wie Dolly Parton, Led Zeppelins folkigen Metal Blues und und Lenard Cohen.’ Frankfurter Neue Presse (Germany)
  • ‘...das hat Tiefgang und Seele, ist ehrlich und authentisch.’ In MÜnchen (Germany)
  • ‘Großartiger Einstieg.’ Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten (Germany)
  • ‘Eine sehr ehrliche Muisk, ungeschminkt und auch noch stolz drauf.’ Kultur News (Germany)
  • ‘Ihre songs sind so spannend und abwechslungsreich konstruiert und arrangiert, daß man niemals das Gefühl hat, eine altbackene Scheibe zu hören.’ Internet Musikmagazin (Germany)
  • ‘Einer der bemerkenswertesten Geheimtips dieses Frühjahrs.’ Uncle Sully`s (Germany)
  • ‘Cd des Monats....dieses Album ist ein Ereignis.’ Stereo (Germany)
  • ‘Ein bemerkenswertes Album, das ein Höchstmaß an Musikalität vermittelt.’ Jazz & Pop (Germany)
  • ‘...das vielversprechende Debütalbum einer interessanten Künstlerin.’ Muisikmarkt (Germany)
  • ‘Ausdrucksstark. Ein selbstbewußtes Debüt einer ausdrucksstarken Sängerin.’ Neurieder Rundschau (Germany)
  • ‘Mit starker, herzlicher Stimme singt sie über familiäre Lebensdramen- spärlich und düster instrumentiert.’ Harburger (Germany)
  • ‘Das Album ist ein gelungenes Debüt, eingespielt mit einer feinen Band. Im Tacheles steht die junge Pina allein auf der Bühne. Mit dieser eindringlichen Stimme zwischen Patti und Alanis, die sich von tiefem gutturalem Gurren zu zornigem Schreien steigert, von molliger Wärme zu blitzend kalter Schärfe.’ Berliner Tageszeitung (Germany)
  • A gifted instrumentalist... 'Austrian-born singer/songwriter Pina Kollars came to the attention of Real World's Peter Gabriel via her duet with Iarla O'Lionaird ("Go on Through") featured on Afro Celt Sound System's Volume 3: Further In Time. Her debut for Real World is not world music, however. Pina, who fancies alt-rock and a shadowy sort of modern folk wrote all 10 songs here. A gifted instrumentalist and a writer of compelling lyrics, Pina's ragged, plaintive voice provides the third facet that makes Quick Look an extraordinary debut. The bruised quality of her voice-most vivid on the elemental track "Debt Song"-is so appealing to the ear that it becomes the mood of the album. Whether she's delving into rock, as on "The Tower" or working the gothic-folk feel of "Josephine,” Pina’s touch is musical magic.' Billboard (USA)
  • 'Quick Look' showcases a huge talent, which should be investigated immediately. Although the two albums don't bare that many similarities, it's hard to keep Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' far from your thoughts when listening to 'Quick Look'. Along with Joseph Arthur and Afro Celt Sound System, Pina makes what some call an unconventional music sound so familiar. Soundwaves (2002)
  • The Atlanta Local Music Scene By Kevin Madigan 'For those who remember the great Buffy St. Marie, the arrival of Pina will thrill your ears. Their voices are eerily similar. Pina Kollars hails from Austria and lives in Ireland. Her music covers a lot of territory as well, going from gothic folk to spacey rock to some wild place where lesser mortals fear to tread. Peter Gabriel first heard her when she appeared on the Afro Celt Sound System album Volume 3: Further In Time and, because he can, promptly signed her up on his Real World Label, will release Quick Look on July 30th.' Atlantamusicguide.com (Magazine Country)
  • ...Kollars is no ordinary singer-songwriter. 'The break-up of the marriage between Pina Kollars and her husband Helmut, informs much of the lyrical content of Quick Look, but that's not to say it's the usual maudlin, self-pitying catharsis, for Kollars is no ordinary singer-songwriter. Having studied classical guitar at Vienna Conservatorium, as well as both law and medicine, she eventually relocated to County Cork, along with Helmut, when the couple found themselves stymied by debt, leading to their parting. Kollars was signed by Peter Gabriel on hearing her contribution to Afro Celt Sound System's "Go On Through", she's clearly been allowed total artistic liberty and has made good use of it. Right from the opening "I Loved The Way", where she comes on like a throaty cross between Macy Gray and Cat Stevens over shambling percussion and purposefully, brilliantly messy backing vocals, it's evident that this is personal. "On a Day Like Today" is rougher--though Kollar's tremendously warm vocal is clearer and more piercing--recalling classic 1960's rock, as does "Cold Storm" which keeps threatening to slip into "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Best of all is "Josephine", a deep folk epic rising to a soaring chorus lifted yet higher by harsh, interweaving harmonies--you wish Mark Lanegan was there to join in. Quick Look marks the arrival of an important new talent and--thank God--a real personality too' Dominic Wills Amazon.co.uk (UK)
  • Her marriage break-up and new love are laid bare... ...along with her considerable talent, on this compelling debut rooted in Patti Smith/Kate Bush territory rather than the breezy Sheryl Crow camp. The pervading mood of affirmation, not alienation is down to Pina's husky, warm voice and use of everyday imagery-not many people could label a tale about childbirth "Bring Me A Biscuit" and survive smirk-free. Hammered guitar, harmonium, Mellotron, drum loops and guest handclaps by Gomez act as a homegrown, well-worn foil to the singer's sweeping melodies that rise again and again on this 37-minute recording. Making Music
  • 'Cette jeune Autrichienne, rèsidente d'Irlande, signe des chansons qui, vocalement et musicalement, se rapprochent de celles de Kristin Hersh ou de Thalia Zedek. II y manque seulement le tranchant hanté de deux Américaines, mais Pina Kollars posséde ce grain de voix à la rauque et fragile qui suscite facilement I'èmotion. Et, sur des titres comme A Day Like Today, elle réussit à combiner des couplets intimistes et un refrain glorieux, ce qui marque généralement les meilleurs souvenirs de la veine folk rock dont elle fait naturellement partie.' Magic! (France)
  • 'Elle a vingt-deux ans, est Autrichienne et posséde une superbe voix rauque, doublèe d'un impressionnant talent de songwriter...son premier album se situe au top niveau de la qualite et nous incite sans grand risque, à jouer les visionnaires. Pina va faire parler d'elle, et sa voix se fera entendre de plus en plus fort.' Micro Dingo (France)
  • 'Une jeune Autrichienne venue d'Irlande trouve asile chez Peter Gabriel. Versatile et lumineuse, Pina Kollars fait irruption entre nos oreilles...De ss orgines, Pina Kollars a conservè une certaine rudesse continentale. Le mariage de cette rigidité avec le romantisme celte, mais aussi les guitares en guirlande, mais aussi le classicisme de las vielle Europe, développent tout à fait inédites.' Inrockuptibles (France)
  • Pina-Musik-Talent Die hübsche Mittzwanzigerin überzeugt mit einer kraftigen Stimme und tiefsinnigen Texte. U-express (Germany)
  • Quick Look Pinas Sound klingt Folk und Hippie Mäßig, allerdings mit zeitgemäßem Einschlag. Reinhören! Libro Journal (Germany)
  • New.Releases@piccadillyrecords.com Real World : CDRW102 - Pina is a new singer songwriter signed to Peter Gabriel's Real World label, who worked on the last Afro Celt Sound System album. Her songs are painfully autobiographical and she doesn't shirk from exposing the open wounds of her marital break up, the birth of her child, the death of her grandad and the pain of alienation. It's all grist to her lyrical mill. Pina's voice is powerful and hypnotic and this is an assured debut. Www.piccadillyrecords.com (UK)
  • Quick Look Quick Look ist ein gelungenes Debütalbum mit wunderschönen Songs, denen Pinas kraftvolle, bodenständige Stimme die richtige Emotionalität verleiht. Wiener Zeitung (Germany)
  • Quick Look Review Die Sänerin wuchs in Osterreich auf, lebt aber mittlerwelle in Irland. Die persönlich gehaltenen songs bewegen sich stilistisch zwischen Kate Bush und Nick Drake. Music Manual (Germany)
  • Quick Look Review Das Debüt album überzeugt mit zehn eigenen Songs, interpretiert mit folk-poppinger Inbrunst und einer Stimme, die immer wieder ungläubig zum Booklet greifen lässt. Kleine Zeitung (Germany)
  • Pina: Schönes Debüt mit Wiener Wurzeln Das album von Pina besticht mit ungewöhnlichem Tiefgang, warmer Melancholie abseits des Mainstreams. Folk und Rock. Mit ihrer starken Stimme streichelt sie die Seele ohne esoterisch zu werden. Tirler Tageszeitung (Austia)
  • Pina - Quick Look Quick Look lebt von Pinas ungewöhnlicher Stimme. Gitarren, Cello, Hammondorgel, Manoline und Indian ankle bells würzen das rockige stimmungsgeladene Album. Planet Music
  • Musik Botschaften und Therapie Erstanaunlich. Die zehn Songs ihres Debüts "Quick Look" sind schlicht, aber nicht simpel, begnügen sich vielfach mit wenig Instrumentarium, weil die dunkle, prägnante, phasenweise an Macy Gray erinnernde Stimme über allem steht. Viele Emotionen schwingen in diesen Liedern: im Erzähler-Folk von "The Flight" im Gänsehaut-Auslöser "The Lady" oder im bezaubernd schönen "Bring me a Biscuit". Co-nachrichten (Germany)
  • Lebt zunächst einmal von Pina ungewöhn cher Stimme. Am herausragendsten ist "Cold Storm"; weiches ein Meisterwerk an Melodie und Harmonie. Jazzeit (Germany)
  • Pina - Quick Look A de rares exceptions (Joseph Arthur notamment), Real World ne nous à pas habitué à se pencher sur les prodiges de la chanson rock. Grand bien leur fasse, si l'on s'en réfere à ce brillant album de Pina, dont le chant évoque plutôt une Janis américaine que ses origines autrichiennes (pays qu'elle a d'ailleurs quitté il ya a quarte ans pour les côtes irlandaises). Brassant large les influences avec un fondement folk, elle démontre du haut de ses 22 ans une belle maitrise, allié à un souffle de liberté communicatif. La Marseillaise (France)
  • Pina - Quick Look Belle voix envoûtante, arrangments acoustiques et textes souvent sombres. Une carriére sans doute belle est bien née ici. A suivre de très près. Paul Alexandre Start Up (Magazine Country)
  • Une Artiste toute en finesse ... à létat brut! Originaire d'Autriche, Pina vit maintenant dans le Cork, en Irlande. Qu'elle parle de son pays, de la naissance de sa fille, de la mort de son grande-père, de la séperation d'avec son mari ou de ses révoltes, Pina trancende ses expériences personelles pour évoquer des émotions universelles. Cette jeune auteur compositeur interprète à la voix légèrement éraillée a créé son univers: comme une âme folk trempée dans le rock, elle semble avoir synthétisé les genres pour n'en garder que l'essentiel, intense. Passionnée, Pona l'est sans doute: sa fougue transparaît mais judicieusement maintenue, sans démonstration ostentatoire. C'est cet étrange équilibre entre les extremes qui nous a séduits. Découvrez dès maintenant "Quick Look", un tre bel Banboo Music (France)
  • 'Pina, d'origine autrichienne, s'est exilee il y a 4 ans en Irlande. Elle livre ici un trés intéressant I"album de pop-folk, dans la lignée d'Alanis Morrissette. Dans "Quick Look", Pina retrace sa vie de facon sincére, simple, avec une franchise absolue. Guitare séche et tambourins sont ses instruments, mais le plus étonnant est sans conteste sa voix rauque et lancinante. Une vraie rockeuse!' Rockeuse (France)
  • '...Pina est une sorte de Melaine moderne...qui met ses tripes à vif au fil de compositions à fleur de peau. Quick Look doit enffet beaucoup à la voix ècorchèe de son interprète, qui a du coffre et de I'éotion à revendre. On en oublierait presque que tout se ressemble un peu, et I'on se laisse volontiers emballer par la vitalité decet album, où planent le charme mélodique de Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, le rock mélancolique de REM et I'ombre de Dylan.' (4 out of 5) Compact (France)
  • CD of the Week (4 out of 5) Irish Sunday Tribune (Ireland)
  • Quick Look is an album bursting with energy and ideas... ...all rooted within the fairly traditional acoustic/electric rock format yet sounding fresh and exciting, Pina has assembled an elegant, uplifting collection of songs...Scratch a little deeper, however, and the heartache behind the muse begins to reveal itself...all the more affecting given its spirited presentation.' (5 out of 5) Hot Press (UK)
  • Magnificent debut by Austrian-born, Irish-based singer-songwriter Raised on Anglo-American rock and pop but denied a hearing in her homeland, Pina unleashes a wealth of pent-up energy, emotional turmoil and melodic power on her debut album. The intensely autobiographical songs deal with child birth ("Bring Me A Biscuit"), hatred of her homeland ("The Tower") and failed marriage ("A Day Like Today"). But her multi-tracked vocals and wordless harmonies bring them to life, shining in settings that range from mystical reveries to scathing metal blues. A daring and impressive debut. (4 out of 5) Uncut (UK)
  • ...wordless, otherworldly vocal harmonies. (4 out of 5) What's the story? ...Led Zeppelin meets Kate Bush
    Ideal CD for... girl's who've outgrown Tori Amos.
    Sunday Express (UK)
  • Peter Gabriel's Real World label has been stretching its "World Music" remit recently, Pina Kollars...(4 out of 5) ...sounds like Eartha Kitt singing with a 1970s supergroup comprising members of Free, the Strawbs and the Rolling Stones (on the fast songs), and Buffy St Marie covering Tori Amos (on the slow ones). She is a singer-songwriter who knows how to write 'em in the way that they're not supposed to write 'em any more. Her debt to the past is most noticeable on Cold Storm, which threatens to be a rewrite of Jumpin' Jack Flash, then finds its own identity halfway through. But tracks like the beautifully crafted I Loved The Way and the ranting The Tower stand firmly on their own feet. And you've got to admire anyone who can write a song about giving birth and call it Bring Me A Biscuit. Sunday Times (UK)
  • ...a genuine treasure, an example of an outsider bringing new passion to old British forms. An unashamedly autobiographical writer...Worth more than a quick Look. (4 out of 5) Daily Mirror (UK)
  • CD Of The Week (4 out of 5) ...From the cover shots, Pina looks about 10, but her croaky voice sounds like a latter day Marianne Faithfull or even Stevie Nicks, and it works well with the dusty acoustic arrangements, which sound a little like Elliot Smith. The mood is pretty downbeat, but there are a few poppy tracks, like the excellent (and super-catchy) 'Cold Storm', which prevent things from becoming too bleak. Surprisingly good.

    Anna Carey
    Sunday Tribune Ireland
  • Looking Good Death, seperation, poverty, loneliness - all themes explored in the debut album from Austrian singer songwriter Pina. Don't start reaching for those razorblades just yet though because, as surprisingly sprightly divorce detailing opener 'I Loved The Way' proves, Pina may be bloodied but she is most certainaly unbowed.

    Now resident in West Cork, her experiences would only seem to make her - and her music - stronger. Quick Look is an album bursting with energy and ideas, all rooted within the fairly traditional accoustic/electric rock format yet sounding fresh and exciting. Blessed with a delightfully rich, European voice, Pina has assembled an elegant, uplifting collection of songs. There are hints of Liz Phair throughout, plus the widescreen American songwriting of Tom Petty, even the gothic country drama of Dolly Parton.

    The results are anything but tortured, even given the often emotional nature of the material. 'Josephine', a song of death, is paradoxically brimming with life, while in her hands the most hopeless situations can't help but seem hopeful. Scratch a little deeper, however, and the heartache behind the muse begins to reveal itself ('I Loved The Way' talks simply of "crying all day long" while on 'Cold Storm' she asks for "a brand new heart, a brand new start", all the more affecting given its spirited presentation.

    A deep, dark, truthful debut.

    by Phil Udell (4 out of 5)
    Hot Press Ireland