I recently heard a radio documentary about a man who had been forced to live for thirteen years at the Charles de Gaulle airport because his papers weren't in order. He would get the leftovers from the airport fast food restaurant, shower in the passenger restroom every morning and spend his day on a bench, listening to the radio.
I would like to send him this album, though I doubt he has a CD-player. These are songs about waiting, and about all the little thoughts and frustrations that surface during those agonising spaces of nothing.
In contrast to that airport man, however, Erlend Øye has been travelling. Turning the tables on the electronica scene where the producer reigns supreme and employs singers to spice up the sound, he has journeyed from city to city to let ten different producers sprinkle their stardust on his songs. Judging from the remarkable cohesion of the album ­ despite interesting personal stylistic variations ­ Øye has held them all firmly under supervision. And these are not just any producers. Norwegian Björn Torske and Finnish Mr Velcro Fastener, not to mention Morgan Geist and Schneider TM are major names in contemporary electronica, at least in my book.
To top that, it is equally impossible not to be impressed by Erlend Øye's witty, laconic lyrics, head and shoulders above the flat pidgin English usually exhibited by Scandinavian singers.
Did I forget anything? Oh yes, the voice. Quite the troubled dandy, Øye at his best is a worthy heir of David Sylvian, and he has managed to meld modern electronica and traditional song writing in the most harmonic way I have heard for ages. The melancholic musings of Øye are both cushioned and enlivened by the sprightly sounds enveloping them, and you are never left bored without a melodic hook to cling to.
I do not know the current status of Øye's mellow pop band Kings of Convenience, but if his solo material is going to be of this quality, the band is bound to take a back seat in his production. Pity for them, but lucky us.