From that distant land come many artists. Some I know, many I don’t. I’m aware, for example, that Flunk is from Norwegium. They haven’t been particularly well-received here, for being perhaps too Bjork-ish, but I rather like them. Gorgoroth comes from Norwegium, too! Remember them? They’re not Bjorkish at all. (Gaahl, their lead singer, is one of the most un-Bjork characters in the whole Black Metal scene.) Also from the land of burning churches and audio shrapnel? Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Dimmu Borgir and Emperor. You have to wonder, looking over these acts how it came to pass that Norwegium also gave birth to Anne Marie Almedal.
Dulcet of voice and dulcet of face, Miss Almedal stumbles from the northland like Conan from the land of Cimmeria, with eyes of volcanic blue and… alright, I’ll knock it off with the stereotypes. Seriously, we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Norwegium has also spawned The Kings Of Convenience. How anti-Black Metal can you get? Annie is Norwegian, too (and as it happens, sits right after Anne Marie Almedal in my iTunes library.) The melody for Annie’s “Chewing Gum” drags Gaahl out of fevered sleep in a cold sweat with sheets tangled around his body. Also from Sweden’s neighbor? Sondre Lerche and Serena Maneesh. It is, indeed a land of many facets. Musically, anyway.
Almedal, formerly of the band, Velvet Belly, has just released The Siren & The Sage. It plays like Nick Drake by way of Vashti Bunyan and Alison Goldfrapp. In fact, “Trouble,” the second track on the album, has a crescendo so similar to that of “A & E” that it could almost be its parallel universe cousin crossed over into this world. It’s a lilting collection of tunes, with lyrics that celebrate spring and romance and catching leaves and well, actually, even insanity. If an album is a journey, this one is a journey on a strange, musical cloud that carries you through an emotional landscape and then, with the final cut, “Happy Ending,” deposits you back on your couch with gentle hands. That works for me.
Mostly, what this album does for me is make me wonder what’s next. I like it just fine. It’s a nice drifty wisp of silk. Quite a lovely one, at that. But if she takes one more step forward in style and production she’ll be a force to reckon with. She’s got sweetness and looks, but what makes her interesting is that slight undercurrent of darkness, that Nick Drake-ishness to which I referred earlier. Maybe that dark streak is what inspired her to cover Massive Attack’s “Safe from Harm” (see it here.) Maybe it’s just the word “Siren,” which connotes both beauty and danger. I dunno.
For an excellent glimpse into Almedal’s inspiration and her musings on creativity, check out CC’s interview with the artist here. And head over to mySpace for a smattering of songs. Almedal, if my spider sense is telling me right, will be the next big Norwegian thing. So brace yourself.
What’s that? It’s not Norwegium? It’s Norway??
Nobody tells me anything.
Anne Marie Almedal: The Siren & The Sage: iTunes