Sunday, December 17, 2006

Under Byen--Samme Stof Som Stof (2006)

Artist-Under Byen
Album-Samme Stof Som Stof
Release Date-Sep 26, 2006
Label-Paper Bag
Genre/Style-Post-Rock/ Experimental Indie Rock

Personal Rating-Recommended!

Biography-Denmark's Under Byen (pronounced Oh'nah-Boon) features Henriette Sennenvaldt (vocals), Stine Sørensen (drums), Sara Saxild (bass), Nils Grøndahl (violin), Morten Larsen (drums), Anders Stochholm (kalimba), Morten Svenstrup (cello), and Thorbjørn Krogshede (piano). The experimental electronic collective came together in 1995 and spent the next few years shaping a hypnotic sound that's similar to Sigur Rós and Björk. It wasn't long until Under Byen took their homeland by storm, and in 1998 they became the first act signed to the Danish indie imprint have a cigar. Their stunning debut album, Kyst, was warmly received and earned several Danish music awards, including best Danish band. Their 2002 sophomore release, Det Er Mig Der Holder Træerne Sammen, made its way overseas; both Rolling Stone's David Fricke and the BBC's John Peel praised Under Byen for their unique, mesmerizing compositions. Stateside music fans were reintroduced to Under Byen upon the release of their third album, Samme Stof Som Stof. European tour dates coincided with the Paper Bag album release in fall 2006.

Review-With the rise of groups such as Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Sigur Rós come more textured, orchestrated bands following in their footsteps. Under Byen is such a group, although lead singer Henriette Sennenvalt's fragile delivery on "Pilot" sounds as if it's Björk or PJ Harvey fronting the Sugarcubes. Delicate and yet quite intricate, the song takes on a dreamy but gritty tone as Sennenvalt guides things along à la Nico steering a Velvet Underground number. A slow, creeping song ensues titled "Den Her Sang Handler Om at Få Det Bedste Ud Af Det" which saunters along before strings and more instruments give it a different sonic hue. While pretty, it also takes on a slightly somber tone at times, particularly thanks to the combination of Thorbjørn Krogshede's piano and Nils Grøndahl's violin accompaniment, which builds and builds into a very lush and enjoyable coda. Meanwhile, the group takes on a very ethereal, innocent, child-like approach to the moody and barren "Tindrer" that is a slower, somber effort and has the feeling of music coming from a deranged music box dancer. From there, the band shine on another odd, quirky and arty piece called "Heftig" that could be mistaken for a cover of a Tom Waits track. It also evolves into a haunting, spooky, primal sound that is a distant cousin of "Heela" from PJ Harvey's Dance Hall at Louse Point. Perhaps the highlight of the record is the epic "Film Og Omvendt" which could be construed as some film noir score. Here, Under Byen reinvent themselves for a jazz-tinged arrangement that again shows Sennenvalt's precious pipes before it drives headlong into a rock-oriented format. The album shines mainly due to its often gentle, angelic approach, as is the case with "Siamesisk" which resembles Massive Attack. Things take a slightly different turn with the urgent, independent rock style of "Palads." Overall, Samme Stof Som Stof is an extremely accomplished album.


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