Friday, 22 May 2009

Storsveit Nix Noltes - Royal Family Divorce

For The Stool Pigeon

Even to people familiar with avant-garde music, Storsveit Nix Noltes (translation: "Nick Nolte Big Band") sound like an intriguing proposition. Made up of between 9 and 12 Icelandic musicians depending on who is available at any given time, Storsveit are an Eastern European folk music arkestra with a punk-rock aesthetic. Taking the kind of stomping Balkan rhythms that have been so popular in certain circles recently, notably via bands like Beirut, Devotcha, Dresden Dolls and A Hawk & A Hacksaw, Storsviet take traditional arrangements and turn everything up to eleven.

Which isn't as crazy an idea as it might sound - much of this music is traditionally played at moments of celebration or mourning, and comes with a certain element of celebration or intensity. What Storsveit do is develop the potential of this potently combustible sound to mix with a primordial paste of other genres. Sludgy metal riffs rise up out of nowhere, free jazz trajectories intersect and clash with squalls of feedback, all scraped over groaning accordion and screeching violin. It's full on, totally unpredictable, and pretty much relentless.

Storsveit started as a collective of music students in Reykjavik who wanted to explore possibilities and just play out. They manage to translate that excitement energy into a frenetic live show. They now live and work in bands all over the world, so it's quite an undertaking to get them all together - providing just the sense of occasion they need to keep their excited energy going. That kind of group mentality is not an easy thing to translate and express as recorded music sometimes, but this album is a fair summation of Storsviet's sound - and will hopefully draw some richly deserved attention to this fascinating oddity of a band.

They're due over in the UK in 2009 - don't miss them.

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