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Lo-Fi Icelandic Minimal Pop

Blek Ink
(Ba Da Bing!)

Paul Lydon hails from Iceland and although it's a small country, it's get's quite a bit of acclaim for its music artists, whether it's Bjork, Gus Gus, or the newest export of Sigur Ros. For such a small country that's surrounded by nothing but a vast expanse of ocean and an island itself that varies from rolling meadows to crags of volcanic rock formations, maybe there's just something about the place that inspires musical creativity.

Although Blek Ink is in a completely different category (think home 4-track recordings) than any of the group above, he does manage to do different things than even the typical bedroom recording artists. Instead of going with a more typical acoustic guitar and drum kit, he's pulled out a more wide assortment of sounds including chimes, piano, weird keyboard sounds, and even a bit of guitar (although it's usually played in a way that isn't typical, or simply out-of-tune). It's more of an album of odd little pop songs with the unsteady vocals of Lydon layed down over them.

The first track "Trust" starts out with the jangling, chiming play of a guitar, but it sounds more like the sound that windchimes might make, while slight tugs on a violin create yet another eerie layer while the lyrics of the track take on the theme of the title, with the best line being, "would you trust me to cut your hair?" It may seem silly, but if you've ever been in a close relationship where you've cut someone's hair, it seems just about spot-on. One of the more strange tracks on the album is "Pappisflugur," in which Lydon sings in his native tongue of Icelandic. While the vocals are pretty much the same as normal (except for being in a different language), the track moves along with a weird little slide whistle noise and some cold, loping keyboard sounds. It's much less organic sounding than the chiming and strumming on most of the other pieces

One of the more effective tracks on the disc is the twelve one entitled "Veil" in which Lydon does two-part vocals with himself over nothing but some quiet piano playing. Although it's a bit darker than most other tracks on the release, it works both in that it's shorter and less-repetitive than some of the other work. One of the main problems with the release is that over the course of 17 tracks, Lydon uses a lot of different instruments, but never at the same time. Instead, he just creates one little riff for each song with one instrument and repeats in throughout each track while slightly varying his slightly wounded-sounding vocals. While most of the tracks are fairly short, it just doesn't feel like it's going anywhere most of the time. Of course, if you're into very minimal, repetitive and slightly off-kilter pop music, look no further.

Rating: 5.25