Popkissed .. ‘It’s a Fine Day’

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Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#893 in the Series) is Popkissed, It’s a Fine Day (Aquavit Records)

If you loved Madonna’s hypnotic hit “Frozen,” then you’re sure to dig the equally trance-inducing sound of the Norwegian duo Popkissed. The beat is just as steady, driven by simple, catchy drumlines and encompassed by Lill-Ann Blauenfeldt’s bold, controlled vocals. She might not command the Material Girl’s vocal range, but there is something about Lill-Ann’s heavy alto that lends her delivery an almost tangible intimacy. Creating the vivid soundscapes through which Blauenfeldt’s husky musings float like a restless lark is producer Robert Solheim. These two talents are the heart and soul of Popkissed, an electro-pop act that has just upped the ante in the techno-pop/house game.

Before they decided to meld their creative genius, Robert and Lill-Ann were already seasoned musicians in their own right who had racked up an impressive number of projects. Lill-Ann’s voice had been dazzling audiences since she was a high school freshman in Traverse City Michigan where she had played roles in quite a number of musicals. Her talent was duly awarded in a youth arts festival and in the Outstanding Voice competition at her home state in 1983. She eventually moved to Norway in the nineties where she joined the Oslo Philharmonic Choir (Oslo Filharmonien), a prestigious, Grammy-nominated 70-strong singing group established in 1921. Blauenfeldt also explored her songwriter side, penning compositions in several projects across multiple genres. These skills would come in handy when she met with Robert.

By the time he struck a chord with Lill-Ann in that hazy Oslo party, Solheim had distinguished himself on the electronic scene with several collaborative efforts and a clutch of solo projects. Among the names he shared a studio with are American composer Michael Snyder and songstress Billie Ray Martin. He had also put together his own label, Aquavit. Unlike the other half of Popkissed, Solheim’s musical voyage began by the fjords of Norway’s West Coast. By the time he was in his teens he had mastered an array of instruments including drums and the synthesizer. Not long after he started recording his unique version of techno, critics were falling over themselves to heap praise on Robert’s early works, released on Origo Sound.

I could go on and on about Solheim’s fatPOPkissed_flyer-thumb resume, but let’s dive into Popkissed. Their debut album It’s A Fine Day is actually all there is to talk about but judging by the way analysts are running out of superlatives for it, it is much more than just fine. The 11-track escapade introduces itself with “Cold War” whose electric baseline and robotic drum pattern set a seemingly contradictory platform for Lill-Ann’s bleak lyrics. She wearily pines, “Frosted lights shimmer across the plains, dried out tundra and people in pain…no sun or rain.” Still, you will find your feet shuffling and arms flailing as soon as the DJ unleashes this track on the dancefloor. “The Only Diva” slows things into an R&B-flavored groove which doesn’t stray too far from the caricatures of down-tempo desolation that cemented Robert’s place on the electronic map. It is a track that could have fitted seamlessly into fellow Nordic group Ace of Base’s 1992 album Happy Nation.

As far as addictions go, “Saviour” is positively addictive. Blauenfeldt’s rich melodies coax you into a trance where Solheim’s timely chords and relentless drums will keep you the entire five minutes. The group’s versatility is further revealed in “Tell Me.” But Lill-Ann’s husky vocals are still carefully encased in the trademark fleeting digital percussions and layered keyboard voices of electro-pop. And the deserted landscape Popkissed always evokes inevitably appears before the mind’s eye. The album closes with the rather inaptly named ‘Celebration Time’ which will have you nodding to yet more dark poetry couched in upbeat drums and cavernous strings.

The frosty, sepia images painted by Robert and Lill-Ann make for an unabashedly introspective offering, but one you can’t resist moving in time to. Look out for the official album after its release on 1st December 2013 or sample it on Bandcamp.

  — Phil Kimonge, Nairobi, KenyaPlease-visit-and-LIKE-our-facebook-page

Personnel

  • Lill-Ann Blauenfeldt- Lead and backing vocals, other vocal interpretations
  • Robert Solheim- synths, samples, rhythms and drums, backing vocals

Track Listing

  1. Cold WarsPOPkissed_flyer
  2. Illusions
  3. The Only Diva
  4. Saviour
  5. Tell Me
  6. Red Lips
  7. It’s A Fine Day
  8. Planet
  9. She’s Gone
  10. Dangerous

Related Links

 

Posted by Larry Carta


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