Den Europæiske Spejlbu
, February 4th, 2015 16:06
The last Frisk Frugt album, Dansktoppen Møder Burkina Faso I Det Himmelblå Rum Hvor Solen Bor, Suite was delicious, like a brilliant holiday somewhere warm but not too hot, where the people are nice, but not too high in number. Nobody has to sleep on the sofa bed or a bunk bed (we are all grown ups after all). And no-one gets ripped off; in fact the overall value for money is just another reason to recommend it to everyone you know and give your rating an overall boost.
So, the one I'm meant to be writing about. Den Europæiske Spejlbu is different. It's evocative. Of many things.
The start of this record quite rightly begins with what could be an orchestra warming up in the pit before a ballet. Ever go to see the Nutcracker with school at Christmas? How fucking exciting was that part? The warming up? All those serious, older musicians being utterly professional (maybe). Well that's how we begin. It's pretty magical to me.
Some music manages to evoke such awful emotions and memories that an acute depression can be experienced, old traumas are flung at your brain and you say things you regret and don't really mean because the truth is so unbearable.
Then we have this record, which delicately skips, hops and jumps with a fully orchestrated dance routine especially choreographed through to springtime and all the life, energy and joy that bursts forth with it. I mean, this music makes my mind wander to all sorts of thoughts. Mainly happy ones and then some not so happy ones but those bad things don't matter so much for the time being. Frost is thawing, lambs are falling down all over the shop and it's not permanently dark. Is that a synthesiser or a plastic trumpet?
But this is not Disney. From the subtly complex time signatures come some glitches, some distortion - sounds like the speakers are fucked on my laptop. What is that? A wall of distorted guitar? Maybe it's actually The Sound Of Music brought up to speed featuring a bubbling undercurrent of menace. The Von Trapps are now fully grown and running a guerrilla drone army from the tea fields of somewhere in Asia.
Ceremonial brass band. Field recording. Drones. Bleeps. Real animal noises maybe? Listen hard! Listen close! What fresh joy is this? To suggest imbalance would be off the mark. Way off. There are themes that reoccur throughout the record in differing styles and dynamics, and these are the hooks. I know I have to listen to this in order to write about it, but whether it is while walking to work in blinding sun, or manoeuvring in Morrisons, I hear new nuances each time; I don't know how boredom could exist in this world. It's like watching a brave gymnast land complex jumps on the highbeam. You feel so glad they survived. So glad. It's so beautifully conceived.
Pizzicatto strings, tropicalia stumming, female harmonies. Skipping skip skipping. Like Vib Ribbon the gorgeously simple, deceptively complex, innocent 2D computer game.
Is this an unwitting Four Seasons? It is to me, if the last song can be compared to 'Summer' ending in thunderstorms (thank you Wiki) but to me the stages/movements are well defined.
It's so soundtrack/nursery rhyme/choreography worthy… but the cuteness isn't allowed to overpower. I have no clue how this record would be played out live. I have no clue what instruments are handmade - I have no clue what he is singing but it feels like he is taking on the character in a Shakespeare comedy who sings a little ditty to the audience to bring people up to speed incase they were getting lost. Obviously with there being a language barrier I can only rely on the music to help me understand the mood of the piece/part of the story. Just like opera really, without the opera.
Op op op op op op op og omkring
Are we travelling through time? I wonder if my previous references merely show my age. It seems we are now entering the proto-psychedelic 60s, the birth of electronic music and chamber prog opuses. Opi? My search results for translating "op og omkring" give me: "about, around, towards and above up upwards". Which now seems appropriate in the context of my interpretation.
The closest comparison could be Dirty Projectors. Or St Vincent for sheer idiosyncrasy. If you find yourself becoming exhausted, it's okay. Some drones, some down time music is on its way. There are some melancholic moments within and glitches reminiscent of Gastr Del Sol's 'Mirror Repair'.
This album is full of incongruity. If I could compare it to a place, I'd compare it to Margate. Formerly regal sea bathing town turned bawdy kiss me quick town tinged with the violence of mods and rockers that hides a weird, ritualistic underbelly of grottoes, piracy, religion and symbolism.
Back to time and the last piece entitled 'Omdrejningsmusik Solens Mekanik', which clocks in at little over 16 mins and manages to melge decades, or even centuries of music in to one psychedelic space drone opus. Thinking back, the rest of the album is on drugs but this is your typical "take lots of drugs and spin around" track. It would be the perfect soundtrack to a dream I recently had where an old lady was photocopying the tattoos on her elbows in a hospital corridor.
It just happens that after the first two Frisk Frugt albums, my iTunes next throws up the the Fishing With John Soundtrack by John Lurie. There is a strong similarity in playfulness and musical quality/composition. I'd really recommend getting hold of all three and listening the heck out of them. They don't occupy any one particular geographical space which is so refreshing right now. There is no one "sound". It's sounds like wherever your mind wants to travel depends on how willing and able you are to daydream or night dream. They are both the works of people who have travelled and become immersed in their new surroundings, human sponges.
Do they crossover? The similarity is probably what informs my near constant reference to soundtracks. I think John Lurie and Frisk Frugt ought to hang out. Gone fission?