Remix News : Bror’s Dream Turns to Gold

Still Benedikte Olsen
Still Benedikte Olsen

This week is certainly proving to be an interesting one, from a Norwegian perspective!

Just when the cat had settled down for a snooze in front of the fire, and the kettle had boiled for a nice cup of charlie, out bounces Bror Forsgren with his single drop, the string-licious, ‘I Had A Dream Last Night’.  Soaring higher than Santa’s sleigh up into the Norwegian skies, this is one truly beautiful arrangement of horns, strings, synths and the instrumental kitchen sink.  It comes gift-wrapped with a delightful video that sees the protagonist popping up around various neighbourhoods, serenading the skyline with declarations of love; all very 21c orchestral manoeuvres in the Oslo dark.

Twenty four hours anon, the cat is chillaxing after clawing more paper off the wall, the coffee has just been made and … poof! Out of the golden Aladdin’s lamp of celestial Oslo pops non-album single ‘overraskelse’, ‘The Wonder of Love’.  Not content with releasing one album, four singles, and touring Europe, the Gold Celeste triumvirate decided, nah, not enough, let’s gift the world another precious gem before Christmas.  And what a sparkler it is!  Their best so far, and one if not the best of 2015.

Another day another rain shower; the cat is now on high alert and in a constant state of nervous tension.  Curtains closed, glass of wine poured, all nice and cosy when whoosh!…Up pops this little glitter ball of dreamy gorgeousness. Puller of heartstrings Forsgren, melds with purveyors of aureate delights, Gold Celeste, to create the perfect orchestral-gaze remix.  Think of it as a sweet psychedelic symphony or a little classic lite meets colour-pop chill.

So, sit down, kick back, relax, and enjoy this very special opus.

Oh and that glass of wine I mentioned, raise a toast to this very special Nordic alliance for giving us what has truly been a very wonderful week of music.

PS – the cat is now on the garage roof and refusing to come down!

Bror Forsgren

‘I Had A Dream Last Night’ is out now, details on social links here – Twitter and Facebook.

The album, ‘Narcissus’ is available to buy here.

Gold Celeste

‘The Wonder of Love’ is now available via iTunes, Spotify and Tidal.

Gold Celeste play the Sebright Arms, Bethal Green, Monday 7th and the Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, Weds 9th.

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Single Review : Bror Forsgren Dreams of Love & So Will You!

Still from I Had A Dream Last Night Director: Ida Nicoline Strand
Still from I Had A Dream Last Night Director: Ida Nicoline Strand

This beauty was baptised into the music-verse earlier today over at Stereogum.  Going on general release tomorrow, 2nd December, ‘I Had A Dream Last Night‘ is Norwegian Bror Forsgren’s first solo foray into the musical maelstrom of orchestral pop.

Bror, a.k.a Marcus Forsgren, has played with the likes of Lionheart Brothers and Jaga Jazzist, but this year has seen him make the leap into the solo unknown, with the recent release of his debut album, ‘Narcissus’, which has been widely well received.  Fresh from that success, Forsgren is now about to release non-album single, ‘I Had A Dream Last Night’.

This is a track that soars, with synth and strings scaling dizzy heights, criss-crossing each other mid-air like frenzied, windswept kites.  An expansive, frenetic and vibrant song, it is a joy to behold, with its golden blend of perfectly mixed orchestral and perfect pop sensibilities.

‘I Had A Dream Last Night’ is a romantic rhapsody that sees Mills and Boon meet, date and marry Gershwin in one fell swoop.  It is a classical cable car that joyfully lifts heart and soul o’er the musical mountaintops dreamily dropping them into an euphoric love-filled nirvana.

The video is a somewhat modern take on on of those 50s romantic Gene Kelly films,  with a reminiscent Forsgren first walking, then running around various locales, with unbounded enthusiasm, singing sweet declarations that are as charmingly endearing as the music is soul-stirring.

‘I Had A Dream Last Night’ is out tomorrow, more details on social links below.  The album, ‘Narcissus’ is available to buy here.

Fellow Norwegians, Gold Celeste, themselves 2015 musical headline makers, have done a remix of the track – if it’s as good as any of the songs on ‘The Glow’ it’ll be a delicious dish indeed – as have Oslo based LOVELOVELOVE.  Both remixes release in tandem with the single.

You can follow Bror Forsgren on Twitter and Facebook.

Single Review : Bellman Returns With A Surprising New Sound!!

Bellman

Fadó fadó back in the 80s, there was a hugely successful, highly acclaimed singer songwriter, by the name of F.R. David. He was French.  He penned a song called, ‘Words Don’t Come Easy’.  It topped the charts in France, and subsequently reached over 11million views on YT.  No mean feat!

Fast-forward to 2015, and Norwegian singer-songwriter Bellman’s new drop, ‘We Are The Guns‘.  Listen to the voice.  Not the sound, not the lyrics, THE VOICE!

Okay it’s got a Norwegian inflection, and is pitted against a dynamic electronic backdrop, but that creamy dreamy, silky soft smoothness that was David’s trademark is there, 100%, in Bellman’s breathy, reverby evocative vocal.

Bellman, a.k.a. Arne-Johan Rauan, has been plying his musical trade for a few years now, and in that time has garnered a loyal following not just in Norway, but also internationally.  His debut album, ‘Mainly Mute’ was both critically and commercially well received, breaking the Top Ten and peaking at the #6 slot on the Norwegian album charts.  Impressively, he has opened for Irish indie-rock legends, Snow Patrol, as well as fellow Norwegians, alt-rockers Madrugada.

Although his sound has been slowly evolving over the years from the Coldplay oriented ‘Spaceship, Move Slow’ to the more acoustic folk-pop of ‘Celestine’, the vibe has always remained tranquil and tenderly mellifluous.  With his latest release, ‘We Are The Guns’, Bellman has turned his inherently “lighter” sound completely on its head by introducing an heavy electronic underlay, albeit one that retains his trademark vocal gentleness.

For his latest project, Bellman collaborated with long time friend, producer Jonas Rohde-Moe.  This experimental collaboration seems to have opened up new musical avenues down which he has travelled extensively, deeply exploring the expansive world of electronica.   This proactive change in direction has given his sound added depth and texture, as well as a more vibrant, rhythmic quality.

Built around a tight fusion of lashings of synth melodies and insistent percussive beats, ‘We Are The Guns’ is well produced, atmospheric, electronic pop.  With its catchy hook, come hither vocal and barely there guitar riffs, it’s quite the musical fishing rod that will slowly reel you in!

Blurry around the edges, Nordic at heart, with a magnetic electronic pulse, ‘We Are The Guns’ is like a wintry Norwegian sleigh ride through an electronic dreamland full of soft pastel fairylights, floating snowflakes and twinkling sonic stars.  Prepare to be swept away.

‘We Are The Guns’ is available now on all digital platforms (see links below) and via No Forevers Records.  Bellman’s new album is scheduled for release in 2016, date tbc.

You can follow Bellman on Facebook and Twitter, and his official website.

‘We Are The Guns’ can be purchased here,

iTUNES:

SPOTIFY:

TIDAL:

Guest Review : Alex Clemence of Dayflower on Palace Winter’s ‘New Ghost’

Director: Cecilie McNair Director of Photography: Sine Brooker
Director: Cecilie McNair Director of Photography: Sine Brooker

Today, I am super delighted to welcome the charming, witty and immensely talented Alex Clemence, front man with English dream-indie-gaze band DayFlower, as guest reviewer on the blog.  Alex is reviewing, ‘New Ghost‘, the latest single from Danish duo, Palace Winter, whose star is in such a rapid ascendancy it’ll soon shoot out through the atmosphere!

Introducing Alex … In his own words,

“Alex is a human male from Norwich who moved to Leicester in 2003 with the sole aim of failing to complete a degree in Economics. He achieved this in some style by dropping out after his first year.

When he isn’t working on fusing the nursery rhymes in his head with his own average guitar playing, he enjoys scotch bonnet chilli peppers, Haribo, Seinfeld box sets, weapons grade Polish lager, Poptarts, hanging out with his 6 year old son, American 9 ball pool (he is above average at this), dreaming up sitcoms that never seem to happen and being in love.”

Medication Cover Photo

Review: ‘New Ghost’, Palace Winter by Alex Clemence

“According to Palace Winter front man, Carl Coleman, “we like a sound that waves around with its genres”. Well it shows.

What this Copenhagen based duo manage to do is meld classic, almost jangly folk melodies, with danceable rhythms reminiscent of New Order, and what sounds like an 80’s analogue synth with the crystal clear guitar chime of The Cure. All of which they do beautifully, by the way.

I’m not going to disagree with a previous reviewer’s assertion that there is just a hint of R.E.M in the mix. Beneath the melting pot of pure 80s pop, you have a lightly strummed acoustic guitar and a yearning vocal melody that apart from Michael Stipe, also evokes the beauty of Alex Chilton & Big Star.

‘New Ghost’ is jam packed with melody, a new one emerging with each and every listen. This is the trick that great songs manage to pull off time and time again.

What struck me though was how these lads use reverb. Nothing gratuitous; I hate it when musicians do that. There is nothing worse than reverb being used to make up for the shortcomings of a song or musician. Palace Winter use it perfectly, adding just the right amount.

This song feels panoramic. It has space everywhere. There’s so much going on at once that you would be doing it a disservice if you listened to it for less than 8 times in a row. ‘New Ghost’ quite literally is the gift that keeps on giving.

I’m a particular fan of how this song ends. All euphoria fades away, leaving a single acoustic guitar. Underneath everything and by that I mean the pulse, the driving guitars, the reverb and the synth, is a simple heartfelt song that will always stand up as just vocals and guitar. Wonderful.

So?

Well I love the track. For me, it is the perfect fusion of classic pop, the best bits of the 80s, carried along with a gorgeous soulful vocal, nesting on top of the music like a lost bird whistling into your ear whilst you’re being driven into the unknown.

‘New Ghost’ is my kind of journey.”  Alex

GUYS

Big up for Alex for giving ‘New Ghost’ some spin & ink; more kudos for those Palace Winter boys who seem to be doing everything just right these days!!

Just to put the cherry on the musical cake, Palace Winter has premiered the hauntingly beautiful, Cecilie Mc Nair directed visual for ‘New Ghost’.  The video, shot in black and white, was produced by Matilda Appelin, with Sine Brooker in charge of photography.  Discussing her approach to the brief, Cecilie told me,

“My intention with the video was to try to capture the cinematic feeling that the music invites. I tried to catch a sense of hidden memories and moments in one’s head that haunts yet comforts you. It’s unsettling but you don’t want it to leave.”

Cecilie has perfectly captured the essence of the song with a stunning film that conveys all the stark yet dreamy other worldliness of ‘New Ghost’.  Watch it here.

Palace Winter play London’s Old Blue Last on 15th December, details here.

The debut EP, ‘Medication’ is out now via Tambhourinoceros.

Palace Winter will play the renowned by:Larm festival next year (where you also find a certain Derv!) – details here – (Mar 2-5, 2016 – By:Larm, Oslo)

You can follow Palace Winter’s antics on Twitter.

You can follow DayFlower on Facebook

Dayflower are curating a club night on 10th December in Leicester’s THE COOKIE – details here.

Slutface Want You To Think About Women

Oya

“We want you to think about female sexuality and what it means to be a ‘slut’, the way we portray women in music and in popular culture. We’re really not dicks – we just want you to think about women more than you do.”

There’s nothing average about indie-rock group “Slutface” particularly their name, right? But I’m guessing that’s already becoming yawnsville so let’s move on!

‘Slutface’ are an uptempo Norwegian Sleater Kinney, with a whiff of Elasica, 2015 stylee …  The de rigeur  noise and attitude are all there, but their music is alive, vibrant, exciting, and a lotta fun.

Despite all the “rocking out sounds”, there are subtle touches of pop sensibilities thrown into the musical mix which make their debut single, ‘Shave my Head’, simply irresistible.   Part protest song, part wake up call it has a super catchy chorus and compelling pop punk melodies.   Front woman Haley Shea’s vocals are somewhat evocative of Gwen Stefani.  She’s a girl that  can hold her notes well, no matter how raucous the vocal gets.

With its seriously frenetic and high energy guitar riffs and drum beats, ‘Shave my Head’ is indie-pop-punk at its punchy, addictive best. Intelligent, articulate and outspoken, Shea’s feistiness, courage of her convictions and determination to stand her ground are both admirable and inspirational. “I was thinking a lot about the expectation we have for women to act in a hysterical way. Why women are portrayed negatively as hysterical and emotional, whereas crazy men are portrayed as tortured geniuses.”

The video sees clips of the band taking us on the Slutface tourist trail of their hometown Bergen, chopped up with footage of them playing live to a buoyantly enthusiastic crowd. The film, regularly interrupted with flashing images of static interference, is as frenetic and frantic as the song.

When you listen to ‘Shave My Head’, it’s actually very hard to believe that the group’s members are still full time University students. There aren’t many full time bands that could swing a track like this, never mind full-time undergrads! About to start working on their debut album, Slutface have indicated that they want their sound to evolve into something ‘more intense, quicker, harder and darker’, so we have that to look forward to in 2016!

‘Shave my Head’ is taken from Slutface’s A/B-side with ‘Get My Own’, out now via 0E0E (Propeller Records)

It is also available to Stream and to buy via iTunes.    Check it out here.

For more information on Slutface, you can socialise with them on:  Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Soundcloud

**Note, the original edited version of this piece was first published in Ja Ja Ja Nordic on 13th November, 2015

EP Review : Kiasmos’ Electronic Extravagance Will Have You ‘Swept’ Away

photo-by-Heüinn-Eiriüksson
photo-by-Heüinn-Eiriüksson

This weekend is going to be a busy one for Icelandic electro-wizards, Kiasmos.  Friday sees the release of their latest EP, ‘Swept’, while Saturday will see them fly into Dublin to present their electronic “lux” in the uber trendy, District8.

Kiasmos is made up of Olafur Arnalds, kingpin of the Icelandic Electro-Classical world, and, long term friend and collaborator, Janus Rasmussen,  the electro-pop enchanter who makes up one half of outfit Byrta, and is also a member of Ice-Faroese band, Bloodgroup.

Photo Kiasmos Barca by @paquitobzh
Photo Kiasmos Barca by @paquitobzh

Purveyors of a unique and highly imaginative, minimal-experimental electronic sound, Kiasmos first started playing together in 2009.  They released their debut EP, ‘Thrown’, in 2012, followed by their eponymous album in 2014.

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The new Kiasmos four-track EP, ‘Swept’,  is at once striking, intriguing, bewitching and uplifting.  It is a confluence of classical and electronic sensibilities, a sonic state where musical elegance gets a twenty first century makeover.

Swept Photo by Claudia Godke
Swept Photo by Claudia Godke

EP opener, ‘Drawn’ is quite the breath-taker.  Delicate sparkling raindrops of piano, evolve into a river of swirling abstract chords that become infused with a carnival of percussive beats.  In the midst of a gloriously refined melody, the stick click sounds create a “samba” like rhythm which gives the track an animated quality.  These gloriously exuberant beats provide a colourful contrast to the elegant emotional backdrop that is ever present in Arnalds’ minimalist keys sequences.

‘Gaunt’ continues the percussive fiesta, giving it a full on “funk-samba” upgrade that wouldn’t go amiss on the streets of Rio. It is a track full to the brim with clever contrasts, as pumping electronic beats are skilfully overlaid by slow chilled synth lines, and peaks and troughs of pulsating  rhythms are intersected by brief interludes of gentle piano.  It is a wonderful muddled fusion of emotive tranquility and rigorous effervescence.

Lead track, ‘Swept’ ups the club-mix ante as the EP moves into “dance lite” mode.  Melding typical dance beats with hypnotic piano loops and cool synth sounds, it is the musical definition of the “electric light orchestra”.  Piano sequences shine through a dark low-fi thrum of pulses and percussive grooves, as this track evolves softly but majestically to a vibrant and pulsating climax.

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The EP closes with the Tale of Us remix of ‘Swept’.   Tale of Us is duo Matteo Milleri and Carmine Conte, both of whom were raised in Italy but now live in Berlin.   These electro-mix specialists take their influences from rock through to nu-disco and plop them onto anything musical, from “straight-up dance floor jams to low-slung ambient tracks and more abstract compositions. ”  They’ve ‘swept’ this track off its feet, giving it an altogether more techno vibe with their addition of heavier percussive and bass line elements.

‘Swept’ is a captivating weave of striking melodies, hugely ingenious percussive techniques and intricately arranged electronica, with a subtle classical twist.  The key to its success lies in the subtlety that belies it’s intricacy.  It is masterfully brought together from conception to production, and is a testament to Kiasmos’ adept musicianship, thoughtful instrumentation and their ever growing desire to both explore and push musical boundaries.  If you think that electronic and classical architectures can’t work together – listen to this – and think again.

‘Swept’ will be released on 12″/DL on Friday 20th November via Erased Tapes.

‘Swept Tracklist’

A1 – Drawn

A2 – Gaunt

B1 – Swept

B2 – Swept (Tale of Us Remix )

You can follow Kiasmos on Twitter and Facebook.

Single Review : NorDanes, Void & Anton, Collab to Create Something Special

Limbic Void IBen

Another day, another Nordic discovery … this time in the form of musical collaborators, Norwegian producer, Limbic Void, and Danish vocalist, Iben Bjørg Anton.  So, just who are this NorDane duo?

Iben Bjørg Anton is a Danish singer-songwriter from Aarhus, Denmark.  Obviously super intelligent, Iben holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree!  She says she likes to write fauna themed, jazz influenced songs – I want to meet her already! – as well as compositions about the confusion that reigns over the world of home -hunters, and the paradox that is “eternal love”.  Every now and then, she likes to try “grasp the contemporary, electronic vibe.”  Intelligent, talented and with a sense of humour, yep, I definitely want to share a bottle with this gal!

And now to fill the ‘Void’.  Alternative electro-pop songwriter and producer, Limbic Void, a.k.a Gustav Espenes, hails from Trondheim, the trendiest town in Norway and home to the #TrondheimCalling fest, and those riotous Riot Factory boys (a.k.a Huey, Dewey and Louie).  Espenes came to Norwegian musical prominence in 2013, on the release of his debut single ‘Stay Strong’, which he not only wrote and performed, but also mixed and produced.

I wouldn’t usually use the word beautiful when describing an intricate electronic weave, but beautiful this is.  ‘Stay Strong’ is a sublime blend of evocative vocal and heavenly harmonies.  It’s vibe is somewhat melancholia washed over with uplifting synth melodies, played out against a backdrop of heavy electronic beats. It’s pretty heady stuff.  No wonder the Norwegian music media raised their heads and blinked!

What do you get when you take the fresh, delicate and fragile vocal of the former and meld it with the dark but sensual electronic intricacy of the latter?

‘The Doghouse’ is what.

The Doghouse

This tracks turns Iben’s vocal on it’s head, drawing out a more mature and inviting sound, which in turn gives it a somewhat sybaritic feel.  Void’s mastery of texturing, layering and production is exemplified by the depth and quality of this track.  With it’s perfectly timed sonic peaks and troughs, this arrangement of complex electronica is so well balanced as to enhance rather than overpower the gentility of Iben’s voice.  Only someone who is understanding of, and proficient in his trade, can pull off something as classy as this production.

This is a most inspired and complementary pairing and I for one, very much look forward to hearing more.   The single, ‘The Doghouse’ is streaming now on Soundcloud.

You can follow Iben on Facebook and her Official Website.

You can follow Limbic on Facebook, Twitter and his Official Website.

Album Review : Anna von Hausswolff, ‘The Miraculous’, Wagner & Bach.

AVH

Anna von Hausswolff has just released her third album, ‘The Miraculous’, and the title could not be more apt. A musical ‘florilegium’ of gothic tales, ghost stories and Disney’s ‘Fantasia’, it is indeed miraculous that anyone should have conceived of the fantastical landscapes and soundscapes that together make up this ferocious, baroque opus.

Von Hausswolff is like a modern day Wagner – all sweeping theatricals, foreboding drama and gargantuan epic tales. More importantly, she, like the much revered German composer, has a complex and unorthodox creative talent so rare that it is bordering on genius.

Inspired by childhood tales about a long ago land of kings, bloodstained landscapes, folk music and magic, von Hausswolff when questioned as to its exact Swedish location, remains tight lipped, instead referring to this “place of mystery, magic and terror” as “The Miraculous”.

Anna was drawn back to this legendary land of her childhood after reading the 1961 book, ‘Källan’ meaning ‘Source’, by Swedish author, Walter Ljungquist. Based on the journey of a young group of friends who set off to search for a magical spring in a forest, it’s central theme is ambiguity and the never ending human endeavour to find the spiritual or holy grail, something which von Hausswolff has employed as the thematic basis for her album: “If I were to search for a miracle, just like the kids in the book, then this is the place I would start looking.”

While her second album, ‘Ceremony’, was recorded in a church, for work on ‘The Miraculous’, which was recorded live (although the organ element had to be recorded and added in separately), von Hausswolff and her band set up their stall in the Acusticum concert hall in Piteå, Northern Sweden.

Situated just shy of the Arctic Circle, the Piteå concert hall is home to one of the largest pipe organs in Europe, the magnificent Acusticum, which is made up of some 9000 pipes, 208 stops and has a host of unusual features including a built-in glockenspiel, a celeste and its very own water feature, which von Hausswolff describes as, “pipes half covered in water’ which create the “screaming bird sound(s)” heard on ‘The Hope Only Of Empty Men’.

Made up of nine tracks varying in shade and tone, listening to ‘The Miraculous’ is like taking a musical journey through a kaleidoscope of cinematic and classical soundscapes. There are chapters from Brokeback Mountain, Dracula and The Ipcress File juxtaposed with images from operatic fairytales like Humperdink’s ‘Hansel and Gretel’. ‘The Miraculous’ also has the magnificent resonance of the astounding opus that is Bach’s ‘Organ Toccata’.

Anna von Hausswolff has an amazing and varied range and timbre to her voice, and intriguingly her vocal varies hugely from track to track. On album opener, ‘Discovery’ the vocal arrives very late in the game and the initial reaction is – Siouxsie! ‘Discovery’ opens with several spacious blasts of a ship’s horn – the blaring sounds of doom? Bass pipes, whirling treble and agitations of military drumming are all portentous of a drama set to unfold.

The piece evolves rapidly, and with increasing instrumental layers of electric guitar and synth, the sound gets louder until it is almost diabolically “thunderous”. Half way through, we are treated to an electronic “sound affects show” pervaded by some slow guitar playing and crashing cymbals as the vocal makes it’s long awaited arrival on stage. Vocal theatrics and powerfully evocative enunciations are very Siouxsie Sioux and rising to a crescendo bring ‘Discovery’ to a dramatic close.

While ‘The Hope Only Of Empty Men’ is fantastical and bizarre, with a “gagged” vocal, ‘Pomperipossa’ is pure Dracula/Film Noir, the stuff of dark dreams from the cemetery.   It’s pure “scary around the edges” black drone, and when AvH eerily asks “Am I Scaring You?” – the auto-answer is a most definite, “YES!!”

Respite comes in the form of ‘Come Wander With Me Deliverance’, a beautifully surreal composition and for me, the highlight of the album. Here Anna’s vocal delivery is breathtakingly beautiful and ethereal. When it hits its higher reaches, it puts one in mind of a ghostly Kate Bush, but when Anna plays around with a more forceful, gymnastic style, the vocal is redolent of Susanne Sundfor. The track ramps up with some seriously good percussion, bolstering up pretty wicked guitar riffs that rip and tear across a vocal that wouldn’t be out of place in an operatic version of ‘Wuthering Heights’.

AVH2

The opening bars of ‘Evocation’ wouldn’t go astray at the beginning of a heavy metal ballad. Von Hausswolff’s vocal is pure American rock goddess amidst an electrifying instrumental backdrop and the overall effect is quite stunning.

‘The Miraculous’ ends with ‘Stranger’, a meld of warm electronic and natty percussive sounds, easy acoustic and slide guitar riffs, and an heartfelt vocal. With its distinct country feel, it is a rather serene and uplifting counter to the darkness that has prevailed throughout most of the album.

Imaginative beyond the norm, creative beyond what should be possible, with exceptional musicianship and a vocal range and ability that would challenge many of today’s “success stories”, ‘The Miraculous’ is a mesmerising colossus. I relish the thought of seeing Anna von Hausswolff play this musical magnificence live.

The Miraculous is out now via City Slang.

Single Review : Tina Refsnes ‘I Don’t Know’ is Simply Lovely

Tinapress2

Tina Refsnes has been a bit of a boomerang.  Leaving Oslo for that UK hub for emerging Euro musicians, Liverpool, where she honed her song writing skills, Refsnes found herself returning to back to the Norwegian capital, where fortuitously she finally found her musical muse in the form of Feist & Bahamas producer, Robbie Lackritz.

So inspired was she by Lackritz’s work, that she went to Canada to seek him out.  Lackritz, finding himself tracked down and cajoled into working with Refsnes, brought in trusted collaborator Eirik Stordrange, together with uber cool musos, Don Kerr and Mike O’Brien, and, over the course of three weeks in a Toronto studio, Refsnes album, ‘No One Knows’ was recorded.

I Don’t Know’ the lead track from the new album, which drops 6th November, is an unembellished folky/country song created using a tried and tested classic pop formula – catchy hook, pleasing melody, sweet harmonies and a good beat. Citing “English new-folk and poignant Americana” as her sound, and Neil Young and Laura Marling as some of her influences, it is easy to see how Refsnes has come to develop this quirky, country-folk-pop, laid back easy-listening vibe.

Refsnes is originally from the small picturesque coastal town of Floro, surrounded on one side by sea, and by mountains on the other.  She has taken her love for this picturesque tranquillity and teased it gently out into her relaxed, easy-feeling music.  Her vocal with its distinct Norwegian timbre is perfectly matched by the folky mellowness of cyclical acoustic guitar lines and soft-jazz brushed drums.

This is a sweet and uplifting song ,and the accompanying video has got the same unaffected organic quality that Refsnes has brought to her work – peaceful, unadorned, quirky, natural and above all, happy.  It is a simply shot film, for a simply lovely song.

‘I Don’t Know’ is out now via Vestkyst Records on iTunes: http://apple.co/1FYcX5X and Spotify: http://spoti.fi/1G2BUgg

The album “No One Knows That You’re Lost” available now  http://www.tinarefsnes.com

You can follow Tina on Twitter – here

Note** – This is the unedited version of the single review that appeared on Ja Ja Ja Nordic Mag on 10th November 2015.

Single Review : Benedict Benjamin isn’t as Thin Skin-ned as he thinks

Photo www.folkandhoney.co.uk-
Photo http://www.folkandhoney.co.uk-

Benedict Benjamin describes his musical style as “Reverby, dreamy, psychy, folky, rocky, country-y, harmony-y, 60s-y stuff” – well that gives him a lot of scope to diversify his sound then, hey!

With such a broad sweep across the musical spectrum as this, it is incumbent upon me to poke my nose into the new single ‘Thin Skin’ to establish within which one of these many genres his latest composition falls.  But first, you might like to know a bit more about the dude himself!

The artist formerly known as Ben Rubenstein comes from good musical indie-folk stock, having previously been a member of bands, The Mariner’s Children and Peggy Sue.  As these two bands fell asunder, Benjamin, double jobbing and experiencing a bit of personal strife, decided to utilise his extended waking hours, a result of an extended bout of insomnia, by writing songs.  One month later, he had written the bones of his forthcoming album, ‘Night Songs’ from which, ‘Thin Skin’ has been lifted as the lead track.

‘Thin Skin’ is a funky, catchy track with the indie sensibilities of demi-wonk guitar riffs crossing paths with folky acoustic guitar.  The guitar elements are joined up by slick bass playing and enthusiastic drums with plenty of indulgent high hat tambourine jangle.

Benedict Benjamin has quite a unique and disarming voice and his vocal on ‘Thin Skin’ is powerful enough to underscore the lyric but is also refreshingly pure and emotionally honest without the cringe.  It might seem an odd thing to say, but it is a really nice thing to listen to a sincere, clearly sung, well held, no fuss vocal.

Honesty seems to be the best policy lyrically; when discussing the background to the song, this is what the singer had to say:

“It’s specifically about me being a sensitive person that really appreciates and values honesty but who isn’t always able to muster a civilised response to the hearing of it. The song’s sort of an apology to those who’ve pointed out truths to me who I’ve made feel unwelcome.”

So after all that, which genre does ‘Thin Skin’ fall into … Funky-Indie-Folk is my verdict!!

‘Thin Skin’ is a heartfelt well written composition with an unfussy sound, that has been brought to life via an extremely well played instrumental and a clear distinctive vocal.  Subtle arrangement, and production with nous, have finished it off beautifully.  March 2016, and debut album, ‘Night Songs’, can’t come quick enough for this reviewer.

‘Thin Skin’ is taken from the upcoming album, ‘Night Songs’, due out March 25th 2016 on Sugarcoat Records.

Benedict is in the middle of a short promotional tour, playing several venues in the London area.  Details of remaining dates here, plus a link to his Facebook page, where you can follow him for more info on upcoming live dates and musical updates.

Tue 17th                 LONDON               The Borderline, Soho

Sun 22nd              LONDON               The Finsbury, Finsbury Park

Tue 24th                 LONDON               The Pickle Factory, Tower Hamlets

Sat 5th                     LONDON               The Slaughtered Lamb

https://www.facebook.com/benedictbenjaminsongs