Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: Ölvis : "Bravado" (Resonant)

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ölvis : "Bravado" (Resonant)

While his Icelandic counterparts Sigur Ros and Prince Valium are keen to explore the more glacial aspects of music, Örlygur Þór Örlygsson prefers to make music that is a little more out of this world. "Bravado", his third album as Ölvis (pronounced Elvis) is littered with mantra-like vocals and showered in dense and sparkling instrumentation. Over the course of the album, Örlygsson provides some hypnotic and and alluring melodies throughout the 14 instrumentals and vocal tracks.

Following on form the critically-acclaimed, "Blue Sound", "Bravado" reads like a 'who's who' of contemporary Icelandic music with members of Amina, Sigur Ros and The Apparat Organ Quartet cropping up throughout as guest musicians. "Dream On" is a grandiose track that evokes images of vast, starlit skies. Touching into the neo-psychedelic region occupied by Mercury Rev, it is a majestic instrumental.

"Go Ape" follows and particulalrly highlights Orlygsson's rich, booming baritone. Which is, in turn, soundtracked by playful percussion and reverbed-drenched instrumentation. Lyrically. "Bravado" is said to touch on his disillusionment with global capitalism and the USA's attempts to control everything. Although for most listeners it would be hard to tell, as 95% of this album is sung in his native Icelandic. Meanwhile, song titles such as "Vincent Price", "War Chant" and "Song For Love" don't give too much away either. I'm not sure how much of an influence, if any, San Francisco-based dream-rockers Bethany Curve were during the recording process, but on "Wake Up Now" the gothic tinged vocals, slowly unfolding melody and echo-drenched sounds recall some of their finest moments.

Stand-out tracks?, there are many, this album is consistently strong. Although there are some fine moments at the start, the best tracks seem to be clustered towards the end. "Fight The Power" is notable for the Richard Ashcroft style vocals, albeit an Icelandic version. But it is Örlygsson ability to marry a simplisitc, but pleasing, melody with mechanical percussion that makes this one so appealing. Special mention must also be given to the sprawling album closer, "Merge With The Infinite". A spectacular ending that veers between an immense cinematic soundscape and some prog-rock influenced percussion.

Over the course of 14 tracks (or just over 45 minutes), Ölvis constructs dense and colourful music on "Bravado" that glides through several genres. Dream pop, psychedelia, space-rock and even hints of electronica and post-rock are all touched on, yet there is something remarkably distinctive about his sound. Easily one of the most listenable albums so far this year. If Sigur Ros are everyone's favourite Icelandic friend, then Ölvis is their slightly weird, spaced-out cousin.

Rating = 88%


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At 31 March, 2007, Blogger iworkatinitech said...

Good stuff right! I keep catching myself going back and listening to it!

At 01 April, 2007, Blogger Micky67 said...

'tis a great album!


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