17 August 2010

Beneva vs Clark Nova - sombunall (2008, Fenêtre)

This is the debut album by this Norwegian duo (their second one is already out). On “Sombunall”, Frank Benjamin Finger and Rudi Simmons have slightly changed of purpose if you compare it to their first ep. There is less room here for contemplation of blurry atmospheric landscapes, less ambient introspection and more actions & melodies. They moved towards the electronica & folktronica side of a band like The Books, if you want to resume the situation.

The two first tracks are nice but I don't feel concerned at first. If “I'm twins (the babies said)”, the opening track, finally disarms me with its innocent absurdity, the second track only recycles old electronica tricks once popularized by artists on Warp.

More intriguing is the use of female vocals on the third track but sadly it's your average indietronica melodic song, so 00's, attractive, pleasant but without the expected depth.

Fortunately the fourth song is instantly successful. “Institute Benjamenta” seems to have a free structure at first but slowly the juxtapositions of different elements makes sense and the result is as refreshing as it is melancholic. Dreamy, contemporary and melancholic. This is where the duo excels. “Thora's Inferno”, next on list, is a nice comet trail to the previous track, but not much more.

Finally there are real vocals on “With love, etc.”, and through them a palpable melancholic intensity, poignant and moving. Very convincing, repetitive, slowly evolving and subtle, could be almost tagged as slowcore. Next, it looks like we are not supposed to touch the ground anymore : “Suppose she was telepathic” floats somewhere, like white clouds in a blue sky, between So Quiet and Sawako.

But the ecstasy is too short as the next two tracks belong to the same category as the second track : bland electronica.

As an opposite, “Two men being hospitalized when only one had to be” is very mysterious and intriguing composition à la The Books but more than just that, with a perfect and sensitive end. The last two tracks “Poligraph Poligraphikov” and “Nothing, Only Worthwhile” plays in a close category without reaching the same heights, more playful than special.

There are very good things on this debut album but I'm still hoping for more coherence, depth, subtlety and sense. Their vocabulary is quite nice but the style could have been perfected. But It worths an attentive listening.

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