Music for Moviebikers – SOUND ADVICE (Review)

SOUND ADVICE REVIEW

Regional Spins

 

The latest release from Norwegian musician John Erik Kaada has a lot to offer those who persist past the enigmatic album title and baffling cover art. Thirteen tracks of largely instrumental soundscapes and a plethora of conventional and unorthodox instruments combine to create deceptively placid and poignant moments of sound.

 

This is an album that demands active listening to fully appreciate, as an inattentive ear will likely dismiss this as background music. Experienced in full, however, this album conjures a range of images. I envision a wintery street peopled only with parting lovers, and children in pajamas descending a darkened staircase at midnight. Your mental mileage will, of course, vary but the trip should be no less enchanted.

 

This is no surprise given Kaada’s extensive work with film scores in his native Norway, work for which he was recognized by the Norwegian Film industry. Despite his claim that these are “just 13 connected calm songs that I like,” Kaada admits to the cinematic flavor of the album: “With this record, I hope to bring the two worlds together — the recording artist and the film music.”

 

In blending these worlds, Kaada creates a pastiche of pop and program music that is both familiar and otherworldly. Moments of “In Hora Mortis” will evoke the scoring of Danny Elfman to even casual filmgoers, while the latter sections of “Daily Living” are reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s immortal spaghetti-western themes.

 

The sophisticated orchestration melds traditional elements such as strings and keys with more exotic textures such as saw and sitar (as well as hand-cobbled contraptions of Kaada’s own design) to create ethereal themes that never stray far from the traditions of Western music but constantly veer into the unexpected. The tremolo-infected sheen of guitar in “Daily Living” might risk being trite if it didn’t contrast so distinctly with the sparse minor-key cello figure that precedes it. The song’s winding path mirrors the album, weaving from first song to last.

 

The sum is vibrant and evocative: a wonderfully subjective mental landscape, a journey to a place that’s new but not unknown.

 

Р Daniel McMillan,