Finally got around to reviewing the flagship Misantrof release. In fact, the ONLY original Misantrof release so far. But hopefully this will change soon... In any case, here it is. I just wish I could post this somewhere more people would see it to turn more people to this genius work. Hmm...I wonder what kind of subliminal advertising you can get nowadays...
There are a few albums that I can play no matter what, and always enjoy it as much as the day I heard it, if not more so. Songs that will never grow stale, have a certain inner spark as much as aesthetic quality. For lack of a better word, I suppose you might call them timeless. Pitbullfarm's self-titled (and sole) effort is one of these, as well as the much cruder but equally amazing Affirmative Apartheid by Vaginal Jesus (although that encompasses their entire output, so I suppose it's the band itself that's good). And surprisingly enough, this self-financed EP recorded by a drunken Norwegian poet and some friends at a private studio in the murky underground has entered that elite echelon.
It is Dagen Derpå, the debut solo effort by modern visionary Eirik Skrangle. For those of you who don't know, and admittedly that's just about anyone reading this (who hasn't already frequented the Misantrof forums), Eirik was one half of the due known as Los Bongos, an short lived eclectic group who played, by their own admission, "Spanish Psychedelic FunkPunkTechnoChoirMetal with an ounce of Doorbell SoftRock", and after they recorded 3 albums and went their separate ways, Eirik got together with some friends to record a solo project. One of those friends happened to be the fabulous holocaust cowboy himself, Thee Almighty V(rangsinn), whose newly formed online "label", Misantrof ANTIRecords, seemed the perfect outlet to release it. And I've got to say, for the price they're releasing it (null), the cost to value ratio has got to be the highest I've ever encountered - but of course, can you put a price on art?
It's been said that this takes influence from Los Bongos, although I can't really detect much, though thankfully enough as too much of that material reeked of an alternative/metalcore tainted counterpart for every bit of creative goodness. This is actually quite different, with their specialized Misantrof genre being Norsk PunkFolkRock, which is much better (and shorter) than Los Bongo's label. I suppose that's what Eirik plays, as I really can't think of a proper description myself, not to mention that the individual punk, folk, and rock elements all loose their individuality for a completely unique blend. And it's fantastic.
But enough; what about the actual music? Eirik is on guitar and vocals, Vrangsinn on bass and backing vox, and Frøken Tuva on piano, flute & more backing vox. Notice anything missing? Like all Misantrof releases (or at least those Vrang has his filthy hands in), drums are programmed, although instead of the relentless hammering of Hatepulse, this uses very simple patterns, complete with some intentional mistakes to make them sound more real. And while they do, they also sound pretty plastic, though not in the artificial sense (though sound 100% genuine), it sounds like they're literally drumming on plastic. Realism is nice, although I'd prefer obviously fake drumming that sound good to realistic drumming on a toy set. The rest of the production is great though, quite warm and never weak, despite distortion being relatively sparse, and bass actually having a sizable presence, though not too surprising with the producer on bass. Though the playing is spot-on, technicality isn't the aim, with everything relatively simple and straightforward, and it relies more on the actual feeling behind the songs. Not to mention that the individual elements, however good by themselves, come together so perfectly that the sum transcends any normal expectations for a song - the singing, the riffs, the melody, all are so strong that the song doesn't rely on any one of them, simply going through the motions incredibly gracefully as a song should. After all, this is a pure expression of Eirik with no attention given to monetary gain; he's just doing what he wants, and so the songs are as natural as possible.
Lyrically, I'm at a complete loss. I'm told that they're all about alcohol and partying, although with a darker side that I'm completely oblivious too as I can't speak Norwegian and thus can't see any of the subtleties (and a gaping majority of the obvious as well). A few tidbits picked up from Darkthrone and Carpathian Forest aren't enough to translate, not to mention he uses his own special bastardized version of the language, although from what I can pick up he sings in a somewhat ironic way - as if he's entrapped in the so-called ideal lifestyle, just wanting to get away from it all. You might call him the original Slurms Mackenzie, the tragic party figure (only not a party slave to a soft drink multiplanetary corporation - yet). Although at least to my native English ears, Norwegian-sung lyrics sound far better, especially with his rough, beer-worn voice. But while I gain in simple listening pleasure for what I lose in comprehension, those who know Norwegian should especially give this a listen.
Brennevin starts it all off with some slow guitar and...what's this...female backing singing?! Aaaarrghh, I can't stand it, can't stand it!!! No wait...could it be that it's actually...good?? As a general rule, I usually any and all forms of female backing vox, as they usually fuck up an otherwise great song (see just about any 70's rock song with them), but for once, the first and perhaps only time, they sound good. Great in fact! Frøken actually has a pretty damn good voice which complements the more morose stylings of Skrangle perfectly. Anyway, the song slow builds throughout, eventually adding some piano bits, but instead of reaching a climax, just falls apart at the end in a drunken stupor. And sounds great! Maen is, in the traditional tracklisting method, the best song of the album. From the Kanon-inspired riff to the great "Å nei - der komme Faenmaen!" singalong chorus, this is actually pretty feasible for radio play, were it that he actually cared about any commercial exposure. The song actually sounds positively happy, despite upon inquiries revealing that Faenmaen is the grim reaper (literally translation being Satanman). The song is just amazing though, and Frøken actually sounds fantastic here - perhaps even better than Eirik? I'm utterly stupefied as to how such a gem could come from such humble origins - but then, most do.
Fjernkontrollert Kontroll features Thomas Espi on vocals, guitar, and tambourine. I don't know how much of it he sings though, since the main voice sounds a lot like Eirik anyway. Vrangsinn also gives some cool rough backing bits, which combined with the significantly heavier guitar gives this a much rougher feel, although it has as much melody or emotion as any of the others, if not moreso. Simple structure of soft verses and heavy chorus actually works in its favor, which it rigidly follows despite a little solo thrown in for good measure and frantically gaining speed at the end. One of those songs it feels like you've always known from the first time you've heard it - yet another timeless classic. Når Du Går is what you might call the "heavy" song of the album, despite the last one clearly heavier, but this follows simpler punk structure & power chord riffing. Still definitely good, although seems to lack compared to its predecessor as this seems to try to be heavy while the last one simply was as a side effect. Though the closer Farvel brings it all back to the melancholy apparent in the lyrics, with Vrangsinn on guitar giving his special depressing dissonant style full exhibition. Frøken brings in some sad flute, which actually sounds amazing in tandem with the guitars, making this seem like the end to a great party, the inevitable miserable conclusion where somebody chokes on somebody else's vomit as a dare. Emeticide aside, it serves as the perfect finish, despite the music matching the lyrics as opposed to previous offerings having upbeat drunken party tunes which bely the content within. A lone flute solo slowly fades as the outro, finishing what has remained one of the most consistently amazing works I've ever heard.
I'll admit this is perhaps a bit much for a paltry 5-track EP, much less one offered for free download, which usually implies it's not of much value to the artist in the first place, let alone to those who listen. But instead it's just another prize, perhaps the crown jewel in the Misantrof crown, something of such quality that they instead chose not to defile it by involving such trivialities as money. Or something. But it's good, as is pretty evident had you read the above, as extremely unique - I've never heard anything like it before, neither stylistically nor idealistically. Where else have you ever heard of a drunken tragic Norwegian poet? Well, they probably all are, but how many write exclusively about their tragic drunkenness? If you're looking for something different, something innovative, something personal, something amazing, or something about the faults of partying yet is the perfect drunken party album - you know, fuck all off with conditions, this is nigh-perfect album, and just about anybody will love it. Download it, love it, give all your money to Señor Skrangle. I don't know if the ensuing full-length will be as good as this, as that's a feat even himself would have trouble with, but I suppose I'll have to wait and see.
Keep on skranglin'!