June 22, 2004

Nanook of the North "The Taby Tapes"

With the advent of summer this week, I'm looking for music that will capture coolness in aural form--something that will complement the air conditioner, iced tea and general avoidance of the daylight hours. I'm looking for something that will soothe and chill without the heaviness of classical music or the mindlessness of lite jazz. I'm wanting something that will give me goosebumps and will leave me seeking out a jacket and a young lady to spend a quality afternoon with eating cheese and drinking white wine.

Of course, why not look to Sweden? They've certainly done quite well in the past, delivering drop-dead coolness like ABBA, The Cardigans, Club 8 and The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, and I've got no fear in saying that if it comes from Sweden then it's probably going to be cool. It's certainly the case with The Taby Tapes, because Nanook and his cast of characters have made a record that's chilled out in a electronica pop kind of way, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Gentle strings are mixed with washes of keyboards and acoustic guitar, and on songs like "Nanook's Ark" and "Hey Fragile," the combination is simply beautiful.The Taby Tapes is a concept album of sorts, detailing Nanook's journey from Alaska to Taby, Sweden. Okay, I'll confess that I don't really follow the "concept," but with pop songs this sticky-sweet, who cares?

The ideas behind The Taby Tapes may be thin, but the music sure isn't. Comparisons have been made to Mum, The Delgados and The Postal Service--all bands with smooth electronics and gorgeous, sleepy vocals--but I'm thinking Cowboy in Sweden. Mix in a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, a whole lot of Nordic influence, and voila! Nanook has a husky yet charming voice that reminds me a bit of a more sedate Lee Hazelwood--listen to the boy/girl singing on "Israel and Palestine-A Solution" and try to convince me that this isn't a modern day Lee and Nancy we're dealing with here. (This whole concept of pop music telling a story seems like it would be right up his alley, too.)

The Taby Tapes is nothing more and nothing less than a very pretty album of electronica-tinged indiepop. Don't worry about the themes of the album, and don't worry if the concept of the record doesn't make any sense to you, because the music makes up for it all. Thankfully, Nanook arrived just in time for the summer--come on in, the snow is fine!

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.nanook.se
Label Website: http://www.parasol.com

1 comment:

zorknezer said...

Scomps, good sir! This is one of the greatest compliations of pure aesthetic and musical genius. Though on the surface the songs are about current events or nature communion, there is such a sentiment about them that I am addicted to. "I'm the avalanche, you're the pioneer"... how profound. And I'll leave you with that.