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Kings Of Convenience : Versus
Norwegian acoustic duo gently remixed
sturdy urban beasts. Submit an acoustic ballad to the typical electronic
production crew, and chances are that their brief will be to beat the
mimsiness out of it and make the tune palatable for those whose vision
of Eden is a retro-industrial-styled Hoxton bar rather than a beautiful
place out in the country. 'Versus', however, is a
little different. It comes boasting fashionable remixers who often,
remarkably, up the rustic ante, so that the tunes emerge on the other
side smelling of leaf mulch rather than amyl nitrate.
defiantly fragrant Kings
Of Convenience , by some distance the most talented of this year's
new acoustic crop, are just too soppy to tool up. More likely, though,
this was all part of Eirik Glambek Bøe and
Erlend Øye's devious plan. For two men who trade so much
on ingenuousness, the Kings
Of Convenience have shown an unusual amount of calculation in their
manoeuvrings thus far. There was the early networking in Badly
Drawn Boy 's Manchester scene, for instance; and plenty of that lot
contribute mixes here. Then the Norwegian duo's fine debut album earlier
this year was blessed with the title 'Quiet Is The New
Loud', suggesting a slightly over-eager grasp of the zeitgeist.
The way that 'Versus' shapes up shows Bøe and
Øye's keen eye for a trend has not diminished. The prevailing
style is that which, in the wake of Boards Of Canada
and Four Tet's success, has been rather ludicrously
termed folktronica. So digital beats and noises don't obliterate all
those lustrous strummed acoustic guitars, they [I]empathise with
them. These are cultivated hybrids, exemplified by Four Tet's
superb upholstering of 'Weight Of My Words',
where the winsome vocals are threaded between rippling, looped and
largely unrecognisable instruments, a sleepy hip-hop beat and,
naturally, some small children in the background.
subtle tweakers are either Mancunians (Andy Votel,
Riton, Bamboo Soul or the Kings'
homeboys from Bergen (Erot, Evil
Tordivel, the excellent Röyksopp). It's a little more complicated than a simple remix album, with
veteran string arranger David Whitaker filling out a
version of 'Toxic Girl' and Alfie
recording their own take on 'Failure' that replaces the
original's prissiness with their usual haphazard charm.
A collection of
B-sides, out-takes and limited-edition mixes doesn't quite have the same
cultural cachet as a fully-fledged remix project, of course. And in
spite of 'Versus' being closer to the former (about
half of these tracks have been available before), it still feels like
the best kind of the latter: a bunch of remixes that've been sensitively
commissioned and compiled so that they work properly as an album in
their own right. Organic, you could say, stretching a point - and a must
for this season's more style-conscious Harvest Festivals.
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