scandinavian posts

Under Byen

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 by Julija

danish post-rock // experimental // shoegazing

I suppose many of you would associate Denmark with good music and cinema. Under Byen is no exception, and to me it’s all about extraordinary beauty. So far, everything I’ve ever heard by Under Byen I’d describe as floaty and sensual, sharp and intense—all at once. It’s the kind of music that captures and allures you with the beautiful arrangements, sensitive female vocals and poetic lyrics. (Yes, it does sound poetic and magical even if you don’t know a single word in Danish.) Melodic and dreamy “Byen driver” gives an idea of the earlier works. “Den her sang handler om at fÃ¥ det bedste ud af det” from Samme Stof Som Stof (2006) sounds intense, very powerful and fascinating for seven and a half minutes.

“Between the pleasant dream and the nightmare.
Under Byen – Byen Driver
Under Byen – Den Her Sang Hander Om At FÃ¥ Det Bedste Ud Af Det
buy this cd


Monday, November 27th, 2006 by Paul Irish

kids tv + exotica + scandinavian electro

Psapp + The Books + Plink Plank Plunk might be a bit of an addition simplification, but you’ll hear those elements. Cute synth bleeps and bloops, casio rhythms, and all those samples of household items that the hipster kids love oh so much. Although it’s got the construction technique of Jorgen Traeen (who worked produced Sondre Lerche, Magnet and Jaga Jazzist), I’d call the music a bit too cocktail-party-in-outer-space to show up on Grey’s Anatomy or anything mainstream. But being a low brass man, I smile at their amateur euphonium work. Well played.

Frisky, frolicsome, impish, sportive, waggish.
Toy – Golden Fish In Pool
Toy – Rabbit Pushing Mower
buy this cd


Monday, October 23rd, 2006 by Anne Cloudman

lounge vocal jazz // scandinavian jazz

I came home from work grumpy and needed something upbeat. A track I couldn’t ignore. A clever hook I couldn’t help but smile at. Some percussion to make me nod my head and tap my fingers. I found exactly what I needed in Koop’s “Come to Me”. Horns. Cymbals. Hand claps. Classy, seductive vocals. It’s really just jazz, but it’s smooth and clean. When you tire of the syrupy sweetness, “Drum Rhythm A” is a crisp palate cleanser. Both these tracks glide off the new release Koop Islands.

Classic, classy, comfortable.
Koop – Come To Me
Koop – Drum Rhythm A
buy this cd


Wednesday, September 27th, 2006 by Paul Irish

electronic pop // dark house // minimal techno

Highly architected electronic pop where adroit melodies meet a barrage of synthesized subtlety. Each turn of the music is unexpected; each bar maintains a heavy dose of complexity that keeps your ears engaged all fifty times you listen. I’ve heard this type of music described as bleepy-bloopy, which I’ll admit is appropriate, albeit a bit classless. Trentemøller, a Dane who creates all his music in Acid, takes a tack similar to the sonic landscapes of Telefon Tel Aviv and Télépopmusik. Thought. Aesthetics. Intelligence.

The finest electronic music of the year.
Trentemøller – Take Me Into Your Skin
Trentemøller – Moan (feat. Ane Trolle)
buy this cd

Hanne Hukkelberg

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 by Paul Irish

norwegian eclectic // vocal

This post will be the first time I’ve featured an artist twice on Aurgasm, but I do it without shame. I introduced Hanne last October, along with her beautiful track Ease. This time, Hanne covers the Pixies track ‘Break My Body‘, trading stage-shaking instrumentation for bedroom intimacy, brash demands for a somber plea. Leading with a tender bassline, a flute peeks around the corner, drawing your attention to the concrete steps where Hanne delivers her words. Brushed percussion and a squeezebox provide a warm coat for Hanne’s cold delivery.

“Turning a screed into a seethe and teasing out the drama. Powerful song.
Hanne Hukkelberg – Break My Body (live) (track 12 on the Aurgasm Summer Soundtrack)
buy this cd

Anja Garbarek

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006 by Julija

glitchy singer-songwriter // norwegian dream pop

Anja Garbarek, the daughter of the prolific Norwegian jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek, as a child was surrounded by musicians but had no intention of doing something musical with her career. Instead, at 16 she went to drama college where her performance in a musical brought her to the attention of the Norwegian record industry and she was offered a deal. Anja Garbarek hates being predictable, for her songwriting has always begun with the lyrics and she is known for telling her own feelings reflecting dark stories put with comforting, hypnotic and sweet melodies. Her song “Sleep” from Briefly Shaking (2005) is based on the true story of a woman who was kidnapped and “The Last Trick” was written at a particularly dark moment. You’ll likely hear some Emiliana Torrini in Anja.

The sugar-sweet and the macabre.
Anja Garbarek – Sleep
Anja Garbarek – The Last Trick

Post contributed by Julija
buy this cd

Ane Brun

Monday, June 5th, 2006 by Julija

norwegian singer/songwriter // guitar

Back in 1998, Ane Brun (real name Ane Brunvoll), used to play in the streets to anyone who’d listen to her songs while travelling around Spain. Few years later she moved to Stockholm, Sweden where she started her own independent record label, performing live a lot and recorded the debut album Spending Time with Morgan (named after her beloved acoustic guitar, Morgan). After taking in Grammys in Norway and Sweden, she spent the past couple of years touring, playing at many festivals, supporting such artists as Keren Ann and A-HA. This last year she sat down to deliver her sophomore release, A Temporary Dive, a minimalist masterpiece of songwriting.

A less quirky Ani Difranco, shooting straight from the heart.
Ane Brun – My Lover Will Go
Ane Brun – Rubber & Soul
buy this cd

The Ark

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006 by Paul Irish

swedish glam-rock

During last year’s South By Southwest festival, hipsters heading down 6th Street on their way to the Bloc Party show were stopped when passing by a closet of a club called The Drink. Inside the giant sidewalk window, leadman Ola Salo was jumping from amp to ceiling light to drum set, while his band was pumping out firey glam rock action. Now, typically music with electric guitars and drums doesn’t strike my fancy, but The Ark definitely forces the volume knob up. ‘Rock City Wankers’ perfectly showcases their ability to instantly spawn a party with their vibrant attitude.
Dynamic rock that makes it impossible to stand still.

The Ark – Rock City Wankers
buy this cd

Hanne Hukkelberg

Friday, October 21st, 2005 by Paul Irish

norwegian eclectic // vocal

From bicycle spokes to banjos, wineglasses to wash brooms, and accordions to wurlitzers, there seems to be no limit as to what Lady Hukkelberg might bring to the studio. And what she brings isn’t limited to instruments – on her album Little Things, she brought in fellow Norwegian musicians from Jaga Jazzist, Kaada, Shining, and Aurgasm fave Xploding Plastix. You’ll hear vocal similarities to Emiliana Torrini, but her music has quite a bit more quirk. “Ease” works itself in with calliope and clarinet–Hanne’s friendly voice relaxes you, giving way to a synchopated sampled dreamscape. [thx Julija!]
Adorable childlike spirit beset by mad-hatter instrumentation.

Hanne Hukkelberg – Ease
buy this cd

Beady Belle

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005 by Paul Irish

nu jazz // norwegian soul

Beady Belle is a result of collaboration between vocalist Beate S. Lech and talented instrumentalist Marius Reksjø which began at the University of Oslo. Marius earlier worked with the Bobby Hughes Experience and joined Beate in developing an album for Jazzland Records, requested by nu-jazz godfather Bugge Wesseltoft. From Beady Belle’s newest album, Closer, is “Goldilocks” which gives me everything I want out of a nu-jazz tune in a fine smooth progression. I get vocals similar to Diana Krall, some organic clap and tambourine action popping in, and even a killer blues rhythm guitar break-out solo session.
Hot groove, sweet vocals, and an organ tickled with white gloves.

Beady Belle – Goldilocks
buy this cd