20 April, 2014 in Music Reviews
Solo album number three sees Norwegian songwriter Hanne Kolstø trading in darkly infectious atmospherics that are befitting of her homeland
he Scandinavian peninsula is hardly an area known for its sunshine. Buttressed by towering forests and laced by frozen winters, that can see its habitants bathed in near eternal nightshade, it’s a climate that lends itself perfectly to chilly, atmospheric, songwriting.
With artists like Swedish elfin Lykke Li gaining critical acclaim, for her tenderly created soundscapes, the sense of a Scandinavian reflection is a mirror that’s allowed many a musician to gain focus of themselves. Norway’s Hanne Kolstø is the latest artist to take heed from these surroundings and use them to create introspective music, that’s both moody and beautiful.
Stillness And Panic is Hanne Kolstø’s third solo album in three years and sees the Norwegian Grammy nominated songwriter positioned between the tender electronica of Grimes and raw acoustic approach of Cat Power.
“walks the line between haunting and insouciant”
Opener Vertical Split melds ambient synths to a vocal delivery that walks the line between haunting and insouciant, with rising melodies keeping its atmospherics from being suffocating. The Clinch and One plus One Makes One Out Of Two build on this sentiment, while adding a touch of the foreboding goth pop that Robert Smith reserves for those moments when he rails quietly against the world, rather than caustically against himself.
Indeed the later number could happily have sat among the outtakes for Disintegration and has a chorus so effortlessly catchy that Kolstø’s 2012 nomination for Norway’s ‘Best Pop Album’ is a no brainer.
It’s not all gothic introspection within Stillness And Panic though. Don’t Remember I Forgot You is a playful slab of synth pop, bearing favorable similarity to the excellent Say Lou Lou. While Shiftswitch is a lovely folk number that even has a little warmth in its delivery and Someone Else nods towards Lily & Madeline.
Stillness And Panic may not be the Norwegian winter that Kolstø initially threatens, but it’s the records darker tone that bites hardest. Tracing this outline and filling it with a pop sensibility, that will perk the attention of any beard decked hipster, means that Hanne Kolstø is a songwriter that the synth inclined atmospheric will find much to enjoy in.
Verdict: Folk infected synth pop
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