Moddi - Floriography
After a string of EPs, Norwegian musician Moddi releases his debut Floriography, a nine-track recording produced by Iceland's Bedroom Community composer Valgeir Sigurdsson (Bjork, CocoRosie). To those familiar with such production and compositions you'll know to expect a certain hybridity between traditional folk and experimental interjections.
Hailing from the small island of Senja, Moddi's ambient folk shuffles between tame poetic laments and proclamations wrought with emotion, coupled with an array of instruments from accordion and piano, to musical saw and cello. Opener 'Rubbles' highlights this style beautifully, with a weary accordion (borrowed from his mother, alongside a mandolin and guitar, when he first began his musical ventures) that echoes similar pains of the vocals, though in a politer manner, while Moddi yelps and rasps as if his voice might crack forever as he gasps "this air is too heavy to breathe".
It's a voice that isn't entirely easy to listen to, and yet becomes intriguing for this fact alone, harbouring an honesty in its haunting androgyny which at times, due to pronunciation finds infinitesimal inflections of Joanna Newsom, at others Conor Oberst. Too his observations are often suffocating in their emotional depth, at times you feel like taking a step back from the swell of instrumentation which correlates with the intensity of vocals. But again this is a beguiling darkness we become cloaked in, wanting to discover, submerge ourselves within.
In contrast there is something charmingly endearing about our Norwegian, who at only 23 has shown great capacity as a songsmith, singer and orchestrator of progressive folk balladry. The string compositions that run through Floriography are spellbinding, dancing intricately between the piano and brushed drums cocooning these stories, while tripping, static beats pitter patter in the background of 'Ardennes', juxtaposed a few tracks later against by the stilted accordion of 'Poetry'.
Moddi takes us to quaint lands in rickety boats, throws us down wells of despair and pulls us out again with redemptive, introspective songs, and a sound and voice impossible to ignore.
Every time people ask me what moddi sounds like, I always answer, âscandinavianâ. It might sound silly or âobviousâ, but he sounds nordic, his music exhales ice cold vapor and, in the best of cases, a slightly denuded landscape, with a small hint of Garneau-like vocals and classical orchestral arrangements. In recordings, itâs intense and a bit gloomy but live, itâs like fireworks, with energy spilling out and about. Iâm sad we missed half of his set due to our obstinacy to want... [read more]
Moddi's debut Floriography drew a lot of attention, and in his home nation of Norway, the hype machine went into overdrive, geeing up support for the folk singer-songwriter and earning him two Norwegian Grammy nominations – the record was a mighty success. He went on to turn down a lucrative sponsorship with government-controlled Big Oil and fell in with A-ha, who granted him a sort of scholarship to continue working on his chilling acoustic sonatas. [read more]
Label: Impeller Release date: 25/10/10 Link: MySpace Buy: Amazon PÃ¥l Moddi Knutsen grew up in a village on a northern Norwegian island with just over 100 inhabitants. His first foray into musical endeavours, so he is told, was singing a sea shanty on local radio, aged five. Now, almost twenty years later, having amassed his mother's old accordion, a minimal string section and the services of Icelandic super-producer Valgeir Sigurrdson (previous clients: BjÃ¶rk, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy,... [read more]