Music for Moviebikers – ADEQUACY (Review)



Norwegian “sound artiste” Kaada’s 2001 release Thank You for Giving Me Your Valuable Time was a confusing and eclectic affair, filled with sampled beats, bits of live instrumentation, and Mike Patton-esque sideshow abnormalities (singing through an intercom?), which made his subsequent signing to Patton’s Ipecac label (and re-release of said album in 2003) seem predestined. Kaada’s latest output for Ipecac, Music for Moviebikers, is in a completely different vein. It is a beautiful and creative showcase of textures, melody, and imagery that channels modern moodmakers like Ennio Morricone and Yann Tiersen through a 22-piece orchestra (including bizarre instruments such as the glass harmonica, dulcitone, and psaltery) rather than through samples.


Music for Moviebikers takes the somewhat clichéd idea of “music for an imaginary film” (which was in consideration to be the title, before the more bizarre Moviebikers title was selected) and turns it into something so much more than a music- writing cliché. Each song, while evocative as any Morricone piece, has no imagery tacked on, no squinting cowboy kicking up dust to its humming melodies. Rather, the songs sprout imagery like seeds, with the melodies, textures, and the listener’s imagination as fertilizer. The spaces between the sounds fill up the imagination with fuzzy, indistinct locations and feelings, and the listener begins to feel as if they’re in a hazy cinema, watching out-of-focus, impossible memories creep along the screen.


It starts with “Smiger,” a song whose ripe melody is filled with some sort of longing, which drips off of the violin, glockenspiel, and soaring wordless vocals like tears. “Mainstreaming” is one of the few songs with lyrics, in which Kaada paraphrases a ninth-century Islamic text, intoning “Whoever seeks, whoever seeks me finds me, whoever finds me knows me, whoever knows me loves me, whoever loves me, I love too, whomever I love, I kill.” It’s a chilling text, yet it is spoken with warmth, surrounded by tinkling piano and swirling violin, and while the lyrics add context to the melody, they are not overbearing, nor do they force an unwanted image onto Kaada’s empty slate.


Things get more eerie with “From Here on it Got Rough,” which features inhuman wordless vocals that sound – not unpleasantly – like a cat in heat, yet more subdued, as if the cat is telling a secret. The strange, uneasy feeling of the song continues as disembodied voices swirl above guitar and piano, haunting the melody. Morricone is channeled imaginatively further on in “The Mosquito and the Abandoned Old Woman,” whose melody sounds like neither of those things. The classic ghost town guitar opens up an uneasy soundscape that is subsequently filled by unnamable instruments (is that a saw?) and an accordion-like melody.


The album’s longest piece, “Celibate,” starts off like some sort of organic Bohren & Der Club of Gore and morphs into a dark folk song from an indeterminate region, with what sounds like Norwegian vocals eked out in a falsetto over strummed guitar before the lush string section takes it away. It continues on for seven minutes, which makes it the only song that may overstay its welcome by a minute or two.


While the songs are disparate, with each evoking a different non-existent memory, the album remains cohesive, as the unique orchestration and yearning, wordless vocals string together these disparate pieces as a cohesive, coherent, beautiful whole. Music for Moviebikers acts as a hostel for wandering dreams and memories, the imagery filling up the spaces between the walls of instruments. This hostel may be the most beautiful album put out this year.


-Palmer Keen