Kim Hiorthoy - Melke [Smalltown Supersound - 2002]Kim Hiorthoy. Does that sound Norwegian or what? The Norsemen have an excellent reputation considering music, and the last couple of years show a movement towards (nu-)jazz and electronic music. Melke belongs to the latter category, but the suspect is raised that he's just one among the many. We'll see...
The laptop-based IDM, with the usual glitches, blips and bleeps used to be interesting. But as with all new music, things get too popular and too many mediocre artists get involved. That's why I barely buy such stuff nowadays, but as with all different music scenes, there are a few artists that stand out with a unique and original brand of this particular style. Those are the artists that interest me, and luckily I came across this disc of Kim Hiorthoy; he definitely belongs to that group who keep on exploring and expanding the genre.
Melke is his second album, and the follow-up to the highly acclaimed debut album Hei, released in 2000. Melke however, is, according to Hiorthoy himself, a compilation of remixes, 7 inches, rejected tracks and tracks for other compilations in the period of 2000-2002. That makes Melke probably more varied than Hei, but I can't tell since this album is my first encounter with this artist. Apparently he's active in other regions of art as well, Hiorthoy being a well-known graphical artist in Norway as well. He's responsible for regular contributions to the artwork of releases from the Rune Grammofon label, but also designed the artwork for the re-releases of the two Jaga Jazzist albums and published a design book entitled Tree Weekend.
As implied above, Kim Hiorthoy is a laptop performer, combining weird beats, lo-fi / leftfield electronics, field recordings, toy & electro-acoustic instruments, cut-up, samples, glitch, loops, guitar, violin and piano (at least according to the biography). But what makes Hiorthoy different from other artists is that he's playful, energetic and organic. This is manifested in many different aspects, such as a more prominent role for the beats (like in As If, and the nice remixes on this disc). The melodies incorporate a lot of analogue sounding instruments, and have a childlike, happy feeling (no, I refuse to compare this to Boards Of Canada, since they're different), but other tracks almost lend towards post-rock or just experimental electronics and field recordings. The use of trumpet is some songs works out very well too, but withholding a sudden jazzy atmosphere. As with most of this kind of releases, vocals, spoken words or dialogues are coming from samples and field recordings, but they don't appear very often here, so that Hiorthoy's talent on handling the laptop comes clearly forward.
Without becoming too experimental and dropping the 4/4 beats, Kim Hiorthoy has put together a great, varied and original album of laptop music that feels like a refreshment among other releases in the genre. For such as album 77 minutes seems like an awful long playing time, but do not forget that this is a compilation of many different tracks spanning two years of recording. The difference between the tracks and the remixes make Melke more than interesting during those 77 minutes; therefore I can only recommend checking it out. Released on one of the most fascinating labels of Norway, Smalltown Supersound...Justin Faase