February 25, 2005

AK-Momo "Return to NY"

The music found on AK Momo's debut record, Return to NY, can only be described as unclassifiable. On first listen, there's an easy connection to be made; the music itself is cold, emotionally emotionless ambient music, not unlike Portishead's darker moments walking hand in hand with Broadcast's poppier tendencies. That description doesn't properly describe AK Momo, though. The most striking feature of this band is the vocal styling of AK von Malmborg. It's original, to say the least; she sings with a soulful, childlike style that some might compare to Joanna Newsom or possibly Kate Bush. Of course, such comparisons are not too far-fetched, but what I hear is more of a melding that would read as: Cranes meets Portishead meets The Cardigans meets Broadcast meets Pram meets something totally original.

In spite of such a tenuous description, Return to NY is a fascinating, cold-blooded listen. To say that the music is chilly is an understatement; this Norwegian duo have captured the frigidness of the tundra in song and each successive listen will prove even more shiver-inducing. Not that you should mind, though. Despite its freezing atmosphere, there's also an erotic undertone; Return to NY is very sensual, and it's a musical equivalent of a late-night rendevous or a trist on a cold winter's snow day. For AK Momo, this is a good thing, because it makes you overlook the album's biggest flaw. The formula for their songs doesn't vary, and you'd be hard-pressed to really tell which song is which; after about four repeated listens, no one song stands out; instead, Return to NY feels like one continual suite, with many variations of the same sonic theme. While "Only The Stars" is a beautiful number, it's really difficult to distinguish it from the song that preceeds it, "Time for the Muse" or the song that follows it, "Cold War Of The Hearts,"

That's okay, though; I think that's what AK Momo intended. Despite that major flaw, Return to NY is a gorgeous listen, one that will make you feel something--anything--after you listen to it. A flawed, but still gorgeous, little record. Besides, if you're using this as a soundtrack for a lovely evening, shouldn't you be more concerned about your snuggle?

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.parasol.com

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