Kim Hiorthøy

My Last Day

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Like many of his electronically inclined Smalltown Supersound labelmates -- the kinder-whimsical duo Toy, leftfield house goofball Bjørn Torske, and twinkling neo-disco adventurers Lindström and DiskJøkke -- longtime label associate Kim Hiorthøy approaches his work with a decidedly offbeat sensibility and a fair amount of humor. My Last Day is Hiorthøy's first proper full-length since his 2001 debut Hei, and its prevalent quirkiness is immediately apparent in the nutty songtitles ("I Thought We Could Eat Friends") and head-scratching cover art (which is not by Hiorthøy, though he is a noted graphic artist and designer.) It's evident in the music as well, but the general effect isn't so much overtly goofy as it is curious and off-kilter in a naïve, almost accidental-seeming way. This is an album of abstract listening electronica (for want of a better term), but it's presented with none of the sense of purity, in sound and form, that the genre often entails: neither immaculate inhuman precision nor lush organic warmth, but a rough-cut bushwhack between the two; deliberately messy and faltering. With few exceptions (like the tense chase-scene electro of the opening cut), these pieces are primarily built around simple melodies picked out on somewhat out of tune pianos and other tarnished-sounding instruments, which are surrounded with all sorts of sonic detritus (scraps of ambient noise, found-sound percussion, stray notes from other sources, distant vocal fragments) and frequently yoked to choppy, hip-hop-inflected beats. The melodies, whether placid (the extended, meditative "Skuggan") or playful (the synth-led "Album," which builds to a cheery, fidgety, bleepy peak) or both at once, can be quite effective in their simplicity. But the album's lingering effect is the oddity and subtle artfulness of Hiorthøy's approach to arranging sounds, cutting and pasting them into casual but careful assemblages which feel purposefully unfinished, but not incomplete. It's as though Hiorthøy is attempting -- at times successfully -- to find a relatable form of musicality which is resistant to compositional conventions (though he does occasionally fall back on stock beats and pieces), driven not by willful absurdity but blithe happenstance.

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