When Jazz meets Folk meets World Music meets Country meets Zappa meets Schlager meets Sun Ra meets Blues. Add to that a good portion of bright humor and you enter the hilarious world of Stein Urheim and Mari Kvien Brunvoll. The Norwegian duo has created a bizarre mix of space-age bachelor pad turns extraterrestrial music on their new album, out now on Jazzland.
Mari, who has toured Norway and Europe extensively since around 2000 with various projects, has an amazing approach; at times she sounds like a little girl and then with the help of loops and effects turns into a spacy lounge singer, with background vocals she even comes close to the hip German Schlager of the 60s. On the wide open “Garden Sound”, kalimba, zither, and kazoo only add to the mysterious vocals which come in layers and layers of quirky modulations. An irresistible track.
Sun Ra is greeting on the opening of “Lazy Philosopher” which turns into a 60s folk ditty – the production by Jorgen Traeen, who also helps out on samples, programming, and synths, leaves a lot of space and range. The sheer craziness of “For Now” and its whimsical vocals is simply fascinating. There are three instrumentals here as well, further enhancing the uncanny atmosphere of the album. We’re going on a trip to the Far East on the ambient “Trees”, for example. Elsewhere, Bert Kaempfert loops in.
Worthy of note I think are the lyrics like this one on “That’s What I’d Do”: “I would love your crisis, I would die for you, so if I had to, that’s what I’d do”, backed by a fancy bass-driven beat and with overlapping vocals that resemble a children’s rhyme. The track segues to the hippie anthem “Gold” and after another haunting instrumental (“Lately”), this amazing album ends on a funny, witty note: “Are You Glad” mixes Blues with the Far East on another highly individual piece of unconventionalism.
Gina wanted a five-paw review for this album, but given the brutally short total of slightly over 32 minutes which makes you crave for more….
Stein and Mari are in Germany for two shows: Lieschen Müller in Berlin on October 14th and Knust in Hamburg on October 16th. Don’t miss.