Unrest (Astralwerks)

Erlend Øye 

Unrest (Astralwerks)

Nerdy Norwegian singer and guitarist Erlend Øye is born to be mild. His band Kings of Convenience received hype for its role in the acoustic-rock revival (how quickly we lose interest) with the genre-defining album title Quiet Is the New Loud. Øye dipped a toe in the electronica pool as vocalist for two tracks on Röyksopp's popular Melody A.M. and with Versus, a remix collection of KOC songs.

With Unrest, the concept is more interesting than the results. Øye recorded ten tracks with ten electronic-music producers in ten cities. Lesson learned? Some songs are so dull that no amount of computer-generated polish can add luster to them. The main problem is Øye's voice, which makes New Order's deadpan Bernard Sumner sound as soulful as Al Green. Further bogging down things is Øye's reliance on featherweight electro-pop with facile rhythms that were exhausted before the first Bush administration. Øye's attempts at house music sound stiff, and even luminaries such as Metro Area's Morgan Geist, Prefuse 73, and Soviet turn in humdrum work. Only Schneider TM's quirky broken-beat rhythm and cute melody on "Like Gold" and Mr. Velcro Fastener's sophisticated, funky electro on "Symptom of Disease" rise above mopey mediocrity. Øye como va? No thanks.

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