Kate Havnevik – Melankton

Kate Havnevik - Melankton (2006)

Kate Havnevik - Melankton (2006)

Melankton is for those who pride themselves on having a refined taste. Elegant, sober and nearing the perfection on almost every aspect. And I say that without fear of being labeled as a music elitist, because this album invites to be enjoyed by everyone, as it is not a pre-requisite to like certain genres or know X amount of artists in order to be able to fully appreciate it.

It’s nice to see a then-newcomer (back in 2006) featuring songs full of string arrays giving that orchestral sensation, being careful enough not to throw those elements into her songs just for the sake of doing it, it is completely the opposite actually. In top of that, those elements are well used, so well that it is not the central point of attention, and this manages to not feel like a movie soundtrack. In fact, the point that got my attention was how easy is to relate with this music if you have some previous experience with the likes of Sigur Ros, even there was a brief amount of time where I would regard Kate Havnevik’s music as a Sigur Ros album with a female vocalist.

Comparisons aside though, this album does have some brilliant songs: Unlike Me features challenging lyrics with a slow paced melody. You Again is a delightful song, subtle and intriguing, without becoming a soft monologue though. However, once you pass those songs is when the most interesting songs start to appear. Kaleidoscope feels like a statement coming from someone determined to start new again, and the string array in the background makes a beautiful combination. Sleepless is the most emotional song, feels almost like downtempo at moments, so easy to get carried away with it. Se Meg is the song I blame for the comparison between Kate Havnevik and Sigur Ros, not much to add, if you haven’t listened both, read this review again once you’ve done it.

There’s something I would like to say here though. I’m not sure if it is the presentation of the album as a whole (not the physical package, of course), or the personality that Ms. Havnevik communicates with her voice, but the point is that I’ve always felt that this album manages to feel a little cold. Not a cold feeling like this is soul-less and meaningless music, not the cold feeling that something is missing, but rather a cold and impersonal sensation. Except for very brief moments (Kaleidoscope and Sleepless), I feel like that during rest of the album we are not actually sharing the experience, we are just merely invited to see it from a distance. Is this on purpose, or am I just not fully understanding the situation here? I might never know that.

This is a very well done effort though, and regardless of my impressions about it, if you are into female vocalists, scandinavian influenced tunes, or just good music overall, give Melankton a chance.

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