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Nominated for a Norwegian Grammy for their debut, Something Is Like Nothing Was, Monopot returns with the expansive, hypnotic Optipess. Bringing more electronica into their composing, the Norwegian trio still maintains a Slint-like minimalism while sculpting an interiorly massive record much like Mogwai's brilliant Rock Action. "Aloft" -- with its distant vocals and meandering guitar -- seems to perfectly cross Slint's Spiderland and Dave Pajo's more atmospheric work as Papa M. The beats on "Erlingvik," though electronic, still sound organic, like something that Múm might use. Perfect cover song of 2003? Well, the first contender should be Monopot's haunting version of Steve Harley & the Cockney Rebel's eerie "Sebastian." With "The Beginning," it's Mercury Rev that comes to mind -- the song floats in, sparkling and bittersweet, like it just came down the mountain from some wilderness cabin where it was recorded. Likely to be overlooked by just about everyone, Optipess comes hot on the heels of 2002's Nordic garage rock invasion and it deserves just as much attention.

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