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Archive for December, 2006

THE CUBES – Started Looking EP

Posted: December 3rd, 2006, by Anna Chapman

A quote from The Cubes’ press release states that if Syd Barrett were still alive today, he’d sound like the lead singer, Marc Donovan. Some claim indeed, and one that might have some credence if Mr Donovan came anywhere close either lyrically or musically. Unfortunately, he doesn’t. He sounds like exactly what he is – a twenty year old with a few precious songs which fail to escape their influences rather than drawing on them to create something familiar, yet still individual. This is hardly a surprise, though. On the plus side, these four songs aren’t bad, and there is potential here. But, hey guys, lay off the ridiculous hyperbole a bit and get on with finding your own musical voice. The musical elements and arrangements are interesting enough to suggest this is achievable.

PRINCE VALIUM – Andlaus

Posted: December 3rd, 2006, by Anna Chapman

Prince Valium is one half of the Icelandic duo Sk / um (the ‘um’ side of it to be precise) that produced the well-received electronica mini-album ‘I Thagu Fallsins’ in early 2003.

Andlaus is almost entirely instrumental save for one track, Crying Hearts, and really is a product of its environment. When you listen to this album, you really couldn’t imagine it being spawned from anywhere other than Scandinavia. It is crammed full of ambient Arctic, glacial soundscapes that are evocative of acts like Sigur Ros. It is a testament to Prince Valium’s skills that an album as sonically wide-screen as Andlaus could be produced entirely from his bedroom. And for this he should rightly be given great credit.

However, the album is fatally tied to its musical heritage if not Prince’s own influences. The ghost of Sigur Ros hangs over the whole affair. Indeed, given that Andlaus is produced by an Icelander, it feels like one already knows it will sound like Sigur Ros before the first track even begins. Even the vocals on Crying Hearts, has more than a passing, disconcerting resemblance to Bj√∂rk.

That said, there are moments of great beauty and reflection on Andlaus, particularly the opener, Mixed State. The tracks are expertly crafted in terms of mood. However, while there is much to commend Andlaus in terms of its addition to the canon of contemporary Icelandic music, there is not enough here to lift it out of that position, as there is so much here that one has heard elsewhere.