independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Minimalist Scandi sound worth a look

nils bech

Look Inside

(Fysisk Format) HHHHi

Norwegian composer, songwriter and performance artist Nils Bech may be little known outside Scandinavia but if this album, his second, is any indication, then his music is well worth getting acquainted with.

Bech favours an understated, minimal approach, but there's considerable skill in the sounds he coaxes from a palate of organic and synthetic instruments.

His vocals are striking too, especially as his heavily accented English can take some getting used to.

There is a touch of Antony Hegarty in places – not least when he sings of those matters that are very close to the heart – but fans of Jens Lekman and Perfume Genius will detect a kindred spirit at work.

Bech offers a fresh take on the age-old themes of first love and heartache and there's a touch of wry humour too – a Lekman trademark.

But it's in the music that Bech's star truly shines.

Over the course of nine comparatively short tracks, he showcases an enviable ability to deliver a sonic backdrop that's quietly cinematic and engaging.

There's a subtle use of strings and percussion, smart synth explorations and a judicious employment of studio trickery.

While Bech is clearly indebted to any number of avant-garde visionaries, there's no doubt that he has a commercial pop sensibility too and it's a combination that works particularly well on his best tracks, A Sudden Sickness and Tie Me Up.

The introspective songs of Look Inside provides further evidence that this part of northern Europe is continuing to punch well above its weight.

KEY TRACKS A Sudden Sickness; Tie Me Up

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