OK, this is getting ridiculous... yet another Icelandic band ventures down south for some loving. Ske (which means 'happening' in Icelandic, but 'slut' in Japanese) are a collection of writers and musicians that work in the fields of theatre music, film music and TV ad jingles that decided to make an album of guitar based pop songs. It's a good job they did really, as this eight track mini album thing is bloody brilliant. And I'm not just saying that because of where they come from, and my undying love of all musical things to do with that country...
I have to confess that I already owned this record, but not through official means (ahem, mp3s, ahem). I took a chance and it came flowing down my broadband connection and into my already bustling Icelandic section of 'My Downloads'. It's nice to have the real thing though (as always) and I'm glad I didn't need to resort to ripping them off, but seriously - you try asking for weird Icelandic stuff at HMV...
In the last 18 months we've seen releases by fellow country men (and women) Björk, Mínus, GusGus, Sigur Rós, Múm, Slowblow, Stafræn Hákon, Einar Örn (the shouty nutcase from The Sugarcubes) and a whole heap of quality stuff that's yet to hit this shore, but is massive over there. Just you wait until you hear their take on rap music, it's bloody excellent. And I'm not being ironic. The fact that all of those listed above are pretty much in genres of their own constantly blows my mind (and wallet). Anyway, I've rambled long enough now, and not actually mentioned anything about their beautiful little songs.
Ske arrive with some absolutely inspired pop songs. Mainly acoustic based, but sounding slick, smooth and very, VERY groovy, the guys and girls in Ske have given the world yet another gem, another record to mark down in the book entitled 'Music From Iceland, Discuss...'
Featuring additional vocals by Daniel Agust (ex GusGus), French girl Julie Coadou and Japanese native Juri Hashimoto, each song takes on a life of its own. The beautifully crafted 'Le Tram' is the most laidback French language song ever, without actually being from France. Brilliant.
Opener 'Stuff' is the funkiest, catchiest piece of country tinged rock music that you'll hear all year, and 'Julietta 1' is the coolest piece of kitch Japanese language weirdness this side of The Flaming Lips, but managing to sound a whole lot more catchy, cute and down right weird. If Smekkleysa/ Bad Taste records isn't the coolest record label in the fucking world, then I don't know what is. Although why they decided to scrap the three excellent songs that finish the Icelandic release of the album, I've no idea.
The fact that they have three languages on the record, and not one of them is Icelandic, is a testament to both their weirdness and their eclecticism. No two songs sound alike, whether it's because of the vocalist of choice, the language of choice, or just their song of choice. It's skewed, warped, occasionally beautiful, yet always mesmerising. If this is what TV jingles sound like over there, then kindly pack my bags and ship me off there right this minute. Fuck, I've already been there once this year, and now Ske want me to go back even more than ever now. The bastards.
'Strange and Deranged' does exactly what it says on the tin, with its synth pulses, beatbox drums and floaty atmospherics, 'Julietta 2' is as brilliantly fucked up as the first one, and last song 'T-Rex' is an up beat sleazy stomp. "Tyrannosaurus Rex is coming to town/ for alcohol and sex/ a goddess in gown" goes the first line.
Damn man, I've spent way too long on this review, and I bet you're all sick and tired of reading it by now, but don't worry, I've nearly finished. If you want an introduction to Icelandic music, then I'm afraid you'll have to buy a lot of records. Or get them copied from me, it's up to you. One of them that you must at least hear is this. It's funny, catchy and... well, I've used up all my reviewers words now, so just buy the damn thing.