Recently, Skadedyr have been establishing a reputation as one of Norway’s most exciting up-and-coming bands. Skadedyr however, are no ordinary band. Far from it. Described as an anarchist/democratic band, Skadedyr feature twelve members. These twelve musicians play an eclectic selection of instruments. This includes a brass, string and rhythm section. Even their rhythm section is unlike most other bands. Skadedyr’s rhythm section features two drummers. Then there’s guitars, keyboards and even an accordion. As you can see, Skadedyr aren’t more like other bands.
Instead, Skadedyr are more like pioneering collective of avant-garde musicians. They’ve just recorded their debut album Kongekrabbe, which will be released by Hubro Music on 13th January 2014. Kongekrabbe is no ordinary album. That’s what I’d expection from a pioneering group like Skadedyr, who I’ll tell you about.
Skadedyr were founded by Heida Karine Johannesdottir Mobeck and Anja Lauvdal. They were previously, members of Your Headlights Are On, who released their eponymous debut album in 2011. It was well a received debut album. A great future was forecast for Your Headlights Are On. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Your Headlights Are On, spilt-up. From the ashes of Your Headlights Are On, came Skadedyr, which Heida and Anja are determined to make a success of. They’re very much the driving force to Skadedyr. They’ve also acted as talent spotters.
Since founding Your Headlights Are On, Heida and Anja have brought together members of some of Norway’s best bands. Among them are Broen Osk, Karokh, Moskus, Skrap and Hullyboo. The result is another Norwegian supergroup which features twelve pioneering, innovative musicians. Harnessing this amount of creativity might sound difficult? That’s turned out not to be the case though. Skadedyr are very much a democracy, which meant recording their debut album Kongekrabbe went smoothly.
When it came to recording Kongekrabbe, Skadedyr recorded four songs that Heida and Anja cowrote four songs. The other track Partylus, was penned Ivar Aasen. These songs had been honed in lengthy practice sessions. So, by the time Kongekrabbe entered the studio, they were ready to go. Everything had been worked out beforehand. This included the arrangements to the five tracks on Kongekrabbe. Every member of the band’s point of view was listened to. It’s very much a democratic decision. Rather than have everything written down, it’s was all what Skadedyr hear and feel. This is music as it used to be made.
On the five tracks on Kongekrabbe, Skadedyr use this eclectic selection of instruments like an artist uses their palette. They paint pictures, musical pictures on Kongekrabbe. Incredibly, Skadedyr recorded Kongekrabbe in just one day. This is a really refreshing. Far too often, bands spend months, even years recording an album. When this happens, too often, the result is a bland, overproduced album. This isn’t the case on Kongekrabbe. Not at all.
Kongekrabbe features five tracks which are best described as unyielding, innovative, energetic and enthralling. You’re captivated by this melting pot of musical influences. Psychedelia, rock, Krautrock, prog rock and jazz are some of the musical influences that shine through. That’s why Kongekrabbe is an album that will appeal to an eclectic selection of music lovers. You’ll realize that when I tell you about Kongekrabbe.
Intro Linselus opens Kongekrabbe. An eerie, haunting and chilling the twenty-second intro grabs your attention. After a silent interlude, the track heads in the direction of avant-garde, experimental, free jazz and industrial. Short bursts of grizzled horns, chilling strings, percussion and an accordion join forces as the track reaches an eerie, discordant ending. Following another silent interlude, synths buzz, strings shriek, horns growl and an accordion wails. It’s akin to the musical equivalent of Primal Scream Therapy. A cathartic outpouring of emotion, it’s enthralling, experimental, dramatic and thought provoking.
Linselus/Due has a much more understated sound. Tender, ethereal and jazz-tinged female vocals are accompanied by a standup bass. It propels the arrangement along, while free jazz horns meander in and out. It’s a case of opposites attract. Then the arrangement literally explodes into life. A frenzied combination of scatted vocals, percussion and bursts of braying, blazing horns. They signal the rest of Skadedyr to join this fusion free jazz, rock, experimental and industrial. Boundaries are pushed to their limits, sometimes, even beyonds. Skadedyr seem determined to explore sonically. Then just as quickly as the drama and energy came into being, it disappears, becoming an ambient soundscape. Eno-esque, it has an ethereal quality. You revel in it. It’s as if you’ve strayed onto a lost excerpt from Music For Airports. There’s even a hint of Sigur Ros on what’s best described as four minutes of ethereal beauty.
The title-track Kongekrabbe, unfolds in waves. Again the music is understated and ethereal sound. There’s also a cinematic sound to this fusion of ambient and jazz. It’s as if Skadedyr draw inspiration from Brian Eno’s ambient classics, Harold Budd, Sigur Ros, Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins and Ry Cooder’s Paris Texas. That’s just for the moment. Who knows what curveball Skadedyr may deliver. Any minute, they could spring any number of surprises. They do. Horns are dark, pensive, moody and hopeful, before becoming urgent. Guitars are crystalline, sing-song harmonies joyous and ethereal. The plink plonk piano has an experimental, ambient sound. Later, the track heads in the direction of rock, growing in power and drama. Influences melt into one. Everything from avant-garde, ambient, experimental, free jazz and rock can be heard. The result is mesmeric, as an eclectic musical tapestry takes shape before you. It’s woven by Skadedyr, in their own unmistakable style.
As Partylus unfolds, it’s like journeying back in time. Suddenly, you’re in an old jazz club in New Orleans. It only lasts ten seconds. Then Skadedyr are pushing musical boundaries. The unmistakable snap, crackle and pop of old vinyl ushers in an arrangement that’s inspired by ambient, experimental and jazz. A genre-melting pot pourri of musical influences, you’re captivated. You never know what’s coming next. There’s even a tantalizing cover of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Stone. All to quickly, it gives way to old style jazz. Next a heartfelt, vocal gives way then machine gun guitar licks. The vocal is almost punk in style. Raw and raucous, it’s the just the next part in this musical roller coaster journey where surprises aplenty are in-store for the unsuspecting listener. Best to climb onboard and enjoy the ride.
Lakselus closes Kongekrabbe, Skadedyr’s debut album. Gradually, the arrangement unfolds. It rumbles ominously in the distance. Strings quiver, producing a spine-tingling chilling sound. A myriad of beeps and squeaks are added and the track takes on a space-age sound. Instruments drift in and out. They make their presence felt, but only briefly, and in an unorthodox way. Experimental, industrial and free jazz are the inspiration for Skadedyr. What follows is akin to a chilling, eerie soundscape. Later the drama builds, before the track blossoms, revealing its ethereal beauty. That comes courtesy of strings, piano and ethereal, angelic harmonies. This haunting, cinematic track proves the perfect way to close Kongekrabbe and leaves you wanting to hear more from Skadedyr.
Featuring just five songs, and lasting thirty-six minutes long, Skadedy’s debut album Kongekrabbe is a tantalizing taste of one of Norway’s most exciting up-and-coming bands. Featuring twelve talented and innovative musicians, they’re determined to make music their way. This means with everyone having a say in how the album is made. That’s musical democracy. As for the recording process, Skadedyr don’t waste time. They recorded in just one day. That’s refreshing and resulted in a musical tapestry.
Kongekrabbe is best described as a pot pourri of influences. Ambient, experimental, electronica, industrial, free jazz, Krautrock and rock can all be heard on Kongekrabbe. They’re part of the five atmospheric, dramatic, ethereal and evocative soundscapes. It’s bold, brave and inventive music that paints pictures in your mind’s eye. There’s a cinematic quality to the innovative and imaginative music on Kongekrabbe. I’d also describe Kongekrabbe as cerebral cinematic soundscapes. Sometimes, they’re understated and pensive, while other times they range from dramatic, challenging and futuristic, to moody and broody. Then seamlessly, the music can become crystalline and ethereal, as influences and genres melt into one. All the time the music on Kongekrabbe is articulate and intelligent. One thing Kongekrabbe never are, is boring. No way. This is music that’s guaranteed to pique your imagination and keep you interested. Indeed captivating describes Kongekrabbe perfectly. Kongekrabbe which will be released by Hubro Music on 13th January 2014 is also an innovative, inventive and genre-melting album from Norwegian musical pioneers Skadedyr.