Saturday 29 December 2012

Nils Bech - Look Inside

Album review by

On the one hand you could say that someone who claims to "explore the tensions between art and dance, contemporary music and pop music" is talking arty-farty nonsense and is probably a little on the pretentious side. On the other hand you could say that it's refreshing to have someone approaching various art forms in such a way and bridging the gap between them. Either way you probably wouldn't be expecting to be swept of your feet by an album of party anthems, indeed you may be expecting the kind of sounds that are made to be admired by musos rather than listened to by music fans. So where exactly does Norwegian artist Nils Bech fall in all of this?

The answer isn't straightforward. Predictably there won't be many events ringing in the new year to the songs on this 'Look Inside', however this is an accomplished album, and while it might not be the perfect gift for the fun-loving pop fan in your life it shouldn't be the reserve of chin-stroking, highbrow critics either. There are classical aspects to some songs, not least the swelling 'Breaking Patterns Part 2 (The Break Up)' or 'Pass Pass Me By (Home Town/Family Affairs). You can also hear the dance element on 'I Say This Twice (A New Meeting)'. Nearly every song has brackets by the way, as there is a story to the album for those looking for a touch more depth, although this story seems to be falling in love, falling out of love, feeling incredibly sad and then falling back in love again, so the plot isn't particularly challenging, although it does include a possible reincarnation.

That said, on 'A Sudden Sickness' you can feel the heartbreak, immediately following a classical-influenced piece, these electronic beats and more contemporary sound should feel disjointed, but what Nils Bech does brilliantly throughout this record is to make all the parts gel. You soon forget any worries about pretension and get lost in this strange, genreless world. One key part of 'Look Inside's success is Bech's voice. It's highly distinctive and has the ability to convey emotion splendidly. The closest comparison we can think of is to Anthony & The Johnsons who tread a similar path at times. 'A Scar A Past (Formative Years)' is purely a good song whichever way you label it. If you want to look for the story and explore the album as an artistic statement then feel free, but if you're just seeking something a little different to add to your collection then 'Look Inside' should meet those needs as well.

Nils Bech: When You Looked at Me from Nils Bech on Vimeo.

Nils Bech's website

Pre-order the album

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