Label: Impeller Release date: 25/10/10 Link: MySpace Buy: Amazon Pål 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: Björk, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Coco Rosie) and is making dark and intense folk music. Featuring two tracks from his debut album Floriography (already released in Norway, but still awaiting worldwide distribution) and two written especially from the album, Rubbles has an accomplished sound. Hardly surprisingly, given Moddi's self-admitted obsessive perfectionism. After recording, his debut album spent about three months in post-production and he's stated in interviews that the 'album will never be finished. I could go on for 10 more years.' This sense of control over his own art is tangible in each one of the EP's four tracks. There's an atmospheric darkness in the EP that is perhaps to be expected, written as it was in a country where daylight hours drop to just one in the winter time. Moddi says that, when writing, he draws inside himself and becomes 'emotional and contemplative.' This is strongly reflected in his vocal style; his obvious lack of self-consciousness when performing creates an almost painful intimacy, as if the listener is intruding on this personal space he has created by writing. His lyrics are cryptic, yet offer small snapshots of his idiosyncrasies. In 'Magpie Eggs,' he croons: 'But how am I to forget you're there/With your skin under my nails,' bringing together a guarded view of the emotional and the physical sides of this relationship that we are left guessing at. The instrumentation of the album manages to be sparse yet noisy. The aforementioned accordion of his mother's plays an important role, along with a 'ocean blue' acoustic guitar that gets a mention on his page, and a small yet powerful string section. Percussion is minimal, which adds to the sense of space; with no beats to fence the songs in, they are allowed to ebb and flow in a more organic way, with his strange haunting vocals echoing at the top. Bearing in mind the perfectionism that Moddi clearly employs in his work, it's fair to wonder whether this short EP is a fair demonstration of what he wants to produce musically. He's described his LP as a journey with a progressive sense of narrative, appropriate given that it physically travelled from the beaches of his native Senja, to the studio in Reyjavik, and back to Oslo for extensive mixing. In contrast, the four tracks of this EP feel slightly disconnected, and since Moddi has admitted he could spend a decade on his debut it seems unrepresentative to throw two new tracks in. However, it looks like we can expect more impressive results from his upcoming LP and I look forward to hearing it. Photobucket