Erlend Øye


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From the outside looking in, without having heard the music, it seems like Erlend Øye's intent with Unrest was to make an album that defined the antithesis of cohesion. First, there's the title. Second, there's the way this album came together: ten songs from ten cities -- from Berlin to Brooklyn to Barcelona -- with as many producers. And yet, Unrest is as uniform as an album can be, made up of three- to four-minute songs full of somber hooks that can be loosely categorized as very modern synth pop. Everything fits together so ideally that each of the producers (including Prefuse 73, Soviet, Morgan Geist, Schneider TM, and Mr. Velcro Fastener) must have been guided in some form by Øye, who lends his melancholy but confident voice to every song. Most everything is soft focus, slightly downcast, and heavily reliant upon mid-tempo rhythms that are danceable; however, this is definitely a home-listening album, or one that would also work well during a plane or train trip. The amount of time Øye spent traveling from city to city fosters that dimension of the album. He certainly owes a debt his producers, because each one seems to use a similar set of guidelines to come up with tracks that have distinct personalities. The opening "Ghost Trains," produced by Metro Area's Morgan Geist, has a half-Depeche Mode/half-D Train synth hook that stays imbedded in your memory; Mr. Velcro Fastener's turn on "Symptom of Disease" is based on a deep, melodic, adroit rhythm; "The Talk," recorded with Björn Torske, features elements of Chicago house (that lovely piano skip) and Dayton funk (the zapping synth bass), along with the type of vocal turn that wins over those who value a good collision of songcraft and dance-pop. Save for the unfortunate hip-hop slip-up of "Prego Amore," this is an excellent set of mellow electronic pop.

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