Kings of Convenience — Quiet Is the New Loud
(Astralwerks ASW29072-2, 2001, CD)
Kings of Convenience — Versus
(Astralwerks ASW 11235-2, 2001, CD)
Kings of Convenience — Riot on an Empty Street
(Astralwerks ASW 71665, 2004, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2007-03-01
This is one of those belated discoveries, where a copy of this Norwegian duo’s latest came into my possession, and then I attempted to work my way backward to their self-titled (and completely out-of-print) debut. No go. That debut was re-released with some additional tracks as Quiet Is the New Loud the following year. Driven by two voices and acoustic guitars, with a little piano and electric guitar, occasional light drum arrangements, and a whole lot of excellent songwriting, theirs is a soft, gentle, folk-infused sound with delicate instrumental interplay and melodious harmonies, often introspective in a sort-of alternative way, while still remaining positive and uplifting. I’m certain these guys have listened to more than a few Simon & Garfunkel albums somewhere in their past, but other comparisons might be Nick Drake or (especially on the more upbeat tunes) Silver Morning era Kenny Rankin. Above all, it’s the duo’s songwriting that shines the brightest, and if there is a fault, it’s the samey-ness of the arrangements.
Less than a year after its release, nearly all the material from Quiet Is the New Loud was presented again on Versus in the form of remixes, collaborations, and rearrangements involving other outside musicians and arrangers. For the most part the material is embellished with additional instrumentation and voices, and in most cases the spirit of the original versions are maintained.
The latest release, Riot on an Empty Street, presents the duo’s songwriting and harmonies amidst more robust arrangements, as opposed to the barebones approach of the debut. Perhaps it was the influence of Versus. The opener “Homesick” sounds like an outtake from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme, but the remainder of the disc shows a lot more growth and variety, progressing onward from their earlier work. Additional guest musicians join on a number of instruments and are employed in varying degrees on nearly every track, yet the core of the band’s sound remains unchanged. The pace and scope of the arrangements veer freely into soft pop, jazz, light chamber, acoustic, and folk territory, sometimes all within the same track. The end result is a far more balanced program overall, as the tracks alternate between various moods and levels of energy. Nonetheless, when everything is considered, Riot is consistent and a solid step forward for these Kings. Quiet and Riot are both good starting points, while Versus is more like a laboratory for changes to come.
Related artist(s): Kings of Convenience
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more