Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Under Byen – Alt Er Tabt

Danish band Under Byen’s latest album offers up more of the intriguingly cinematic, often starkly intense chamber rock that’s earned them an avid worldwide cult following. Frontwoman Henriette Sennenvaldt’s ethereal delivery comes across as something of a cross between Bjork and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. The album title translates as “all is lost,” and while an eeriness pervades pretty much everything here, there’s also a lot of quirky fun and innovative, completely out-of-the-box songwriting. Songs swirl and then shift shape suddenly, eschewing any kind of verse/chorus pattern. Instead of using traditional rock drums, they keep their percussion low-key and lo-fi. Banjo, acoustic and electric piano add plaintive, sometimes ominous melody over atmospheric strings and tricky rhythms, established with the breathy first track. The album’s second cut, Territorium echoes Joy Division, its somber bassline over simple drum machine rhythm, layers of strings alternately swooping and crashing. The title track layers catchy, atmospheric vocal overdubs, terse accordion and strings over a clattering Atrocity Exhibition rhythm – imagine a Danish version of the Creatures.

Salades sets whispery, austere vocalese over reverb banjo, gamelanesque percussion and the occasional seemingly random string accent, followed by a warped, atmospheric trip-hop song  that matches disconcertingly out-of-focus vocals to wobbly bent-note banjo. The album’s most intense, epic track is Unoder, atmospherics contrasting with a repetitively looping series of chase themes that alternate noise with melody. Eerie bell-like keyboard tones dominate the next cut, Konstant, vocal and instrumental textures fading into the mix only to disappear in a split second. The album closes with two studies in contrasts, dreamy vocals pushed along by pulsing, astringent string arrangements, and the stately Kapitel 1, a fugue of sorts, voice alternating with accordion, piano, banjo and a big string section. This is a great late-night album.

April 7, 2010 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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