Releases on central indies Smalltown Supersound and Rune Grammofon as well as Kings of Convenience’s first new track in two years plus classic cuts from Xploding Plafstix have all garner strong reviews in the UK music press lately. NME, The Wire Magazine and Dotmusic, among others, all award the diverse releases high scores.
Lars Horntveth in NME: Runner up single of the week
Lars Horntveth’s (of Jaga Jazzist fame) single “The Joker” from his strong debut solo outing “Pooka” (Smalltown Supersound) garners a very warm reception with NME’s Rob Fitzpatrick: “Norwegian person constructs unbelievably graceful instrumental. Not, sadly, a cover of Steve Miller's 1974 classic (don't front - those bluegrass harmonies are the bomb), but still high quality. Horntveth is the man behind Jaga Jazzist, a ten-piece outfit who have radically retooled - gulp - jazz, and come up with something a little more experimental. He's also written for psycho-metallers Turbonegro, so you can imagine it's not quite Acker Bilk we're dealing with here. 'The Joker', though is in a universe all of its own, touching on ocean-deep electronica, groovy string quartets, minimalist jungle and tropicala. Four Tet have turned in their best remix in about three years, too - a jumble of spliced beats trimmed down to tiny shards, seemingly by some monomaniacal lunatic with some dangerous fucking scissors - so it's all good."
Lasse Marhaug: 9,5 out of 10 in Vice Magazine
Marhaug’s laptop statement “The Shape of Rock to Come” (Smalltown Supersound) is another album well received in the UK press. Vice Magazine awards the album 9,5 out of 10 in its latest issue. Excerpts from the rewiev: “So Lasse finally called this week – he lost his mobile at some point during a two-day bender three months ago, probably when the ketamine appeared-and said he’d just been in hospital for ten days. I was surprised, but not that surprised: they guy’s got a voracious appetite for chemicals and drinks like a fish. I think I should’ve sounded more sympathetic. He’d been pissing acid and aching in all those worrying places for ages and eventually plucked up the courage to visit the doctor (typical man!) who said his kidneys and bowels-at the age of 26-were unfurling the white flag. He was on a drip and these insanely powerful antibiotics and now he’s fine, though he walks with a limp because he was laid up for so long, but that just means he gets to gobble more super-strength codeine capsules, so he’s happy. I think there’s a lesson in there. Never give up or something. Not this Lasse by the way, another one. Same difference.” 9.5/10
Strong Wire review of latest Kim Hiorthřy EP
The Wire Magazine’s Keith Moliné awards Kim Hiorthřy solid backing for his latest “Hopeness EP” (Smalltown Supersound): “30 minutes of delightful, unfussy new work from Norwegian renaissance man Hiorthřy, akin to Four Tet and Manitoba, though favouring lighter, more melodic manoeuvres. The winner here is “Soliga Dagens Släppiga Trosor”, in which he manipulates a clutch of double bass samples, some simple electronic tones and elastic percussion into a slippery groove. His skilful layering of deceptively simple melodic phrases and counter-melodies would in most hands result in an over-elaborate mess, but he has a graceful sense of space and line that doubtless comes from his work as a graphic artist. Only that appalling EP title undermines the overall effect.”
Deathprod solo acclaim
Another release given a strong reception is sound sculptor and Supersilent member Deathprod’s retrospective compilation album out now on Rune Grammofon. The Wire Magazine’s Clive Bell highlights Deathprod aka Helge Sten’s compilations of various solo projects (many unavailable until now) over the decade starting 1991: “Deathprod’s burgeoning drones move relentlessly forward at glacial space while ominous crashing and echoes of ghostly choirs are heard from the horizon. For some it may teeter on the portentousm but it’s a vision well realised, a vast and patient music that merits its darker-than-dark packaging.”
Kings Of Convenience - 'Misread'
The first single from the new Kings of Convenience album, “Riot on an Empty Street” (Source/Virgin) was recently released in the UK. Dotmusic/Yahoo.co.uk’s Ian Wilson welcomes the new KoC outing: “Short-sighted boys with thrift store haircuts will dust down their cord jackets with patches on the elbows and sigh wistfully at their equally as short-sighted girlfriends in hand me down floral print dresses as this oh-so-wistful tune crackles from the 1970s stereo in the corner of their favourite café somewhere on the outskirts of Oslo/Stockholm/Swindon (delete as appropriate).
In the outside world, there is the distasteful matter of some football. Here in the cosy, hermetically sealed land of the Kings Of Convenience there is no sport, only conversation. Jazz drums flitter with brushes. A double bass glides. A cello. The piano tinkles. And a slight voiced young man (as above) sighs "if you want to be my friend…" It's a strange, sweet, rather comforting affair that should be as dull as Starsailor/Elbow/that lot, but somehow, triumphantly, isn't. Hurrah for that.
Guardian's Dorian Lynskey recently interviewed the Bergen duo, read the piece here.
KoC's "Misread" is also Download of the Week in NME.
Noxagt – iron strong reviews
Norwegian noise trio Noxagt’s latest album “The Iron Point” (Load) is embraced by the Wire Magazine’s Neil Kulkarni: “The moment after you hit play you realise that this album is perfectly titled. As in filed down to an iron point, honed for maximal impact, a slo-mo bullet. Norwegian grindmeisters Noxagt have pared themselves down from the open collective that formed their electro-rock beginnings to the rock solid trio of Kjetil d Brandsdal, Nils Erga (viola) and Jan Christian L Kyvik (drums), who make a noise like universal collapse. Just to increase the menacing sense of a plan coming together they’ve enlisted the help of Billy Anderson (engineer for Melvins, Fantomas, Sleep and Swans) to marshal their sound from the mindmelting bedlam of their live shows into the fearsomely focused superbeast that is The Iron Point. …Though it is tempting to slot Noxaft in with an American tradition of post-hardcore experimentalism, the Arctic Goth sensibility and defiantly European feel of ”Kling No Klokkka” or the demented polka of ”Hebbex” put them more in line with Berlin guitarist Caspar Brötzmann, God or Einstürzende Neubaten than their many friends in the United States might suspect. Both forward looking and strangely ancient, The Iron Point looks down from Promethean peaks of innovation and dives into squalid, Stygian lows the rest of heavy rock no longer dares to enter, A wonderful record.”
Xploding Plastix re-issue acclaim
Another Wire Magazine review: Nick Southgate examines a re-issue (complete with new tracks) of Xploding Plastix widely acclaimed 2001 album “Amateur Girlfriends” (Palm Beats). Southgate is definitely positive in his review of the now classic Norwegian electronica album: “The idiosyncratic choice of breakbeats gives Amateur Girlfirends a standout quality that won its universal rave reviews in the dance press on its original release. This reissue will deservedly find a new audience.”
Lasse Marhaug, Artist, Composer