Slowblow - Self-Titled
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Slowblow
Self-Titled
(Mobile)

Even though they go about creating albums at their own leisurely pace (this is their first release in almost 8 years), Slowblow is a duo that manage to keep themselves pretty busy. This year actually found them working double duty much of the time, as they also created the soundtrack to the film Nói Albionói. The film, which was also written and directed by Slowblow member Dagur Kárl Petursson is just started to receive more international attention and will be distributed this year. In addition, the other member of the group (Orri Jonsson) engineered Múm's recent Summer Make Good release.

Given all of the above, the 10 tracks on this release might come as a slight surprise from someone who has never heard the group before. Recorded in many different locations in Iceland over many years, the album is sort of a nod to lo-fi indie rock music. While the album rarely gets loud, and even though it doesn't sound particularly fuzzy or scratchy, there's an obvious use of vintage equipment and a general loose feel that gives the album a well-worn quality that works in its advantage. Washing bins become drums and other discarded objects make their way into the mix while little accidents made during the recording process are kept.

"Very Slow Bossanova" isn't quite what the title suggests, although the track is led forth by such a setting on an old drum machine or keyboard. The track shuffles along almost unsteadily with piano and guitar as Jonsson and Petursson sing along lazily. "I Know You Can Smile" would sound like even more of a backporch ditty if it weren't for the vocals of Kristin Anna Valtysdóttir (Múm), as more strummed guitars and chimes melt over the soft pitter patter of a programmed beat.

One of the better tracks on the album is the ramshackle "Second Hand Smoke," an instrumental that's basically an electronic track turned organic as all kinds of clicking metal parts (an old sewing machine? kitchen utensils) clunk and clang alongside a warbling synth in real time. The group turns things up a bit on the rather rocking "Happiness In Your Face," and it helps add a bit of dynamics to the mostly-quiet album. From there, it's back to softer things, as Valtysdóttir contributes vocals to several other tracks and the pace again slows. While there are some definite highlights on the album, the release simply feels too mired down much of the time to excite. The instrumentation is unique, but there's a distinct lack of variety on many of the songs that make the release seem longer than the 38-minute run time. Good, but not quite great.

rating: 6.510
Aaron Coleman 2004-07-22 00:00:00