Friday, 15 November 2013

Spids Nøgenhat - Kommer Med Fred

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


When NME recently gathered together past and present writers, along with a few notable musicians, and put together a top 500 albums of all time list, it was interesting to note that they singled out 1971 as a particularly prominent year. It's perhaps not the most obvious, but when you look into it, you find the convergence of the expanding beat group/rock sound with psychedelia being taken in new directions, prog yet to disappear up its own arse, and the major emergence of talents like Neil Young, David Bowie and Marc Bolan. They may have been making records in the '60s, but this is when they began to peak. Danish group Spids Nøgenhat are a band that could have belonged to that very same era. 'Kommer Med Fred' fits in well with the revival of the psych/prog/rock sounds of the early '70s, and they even go as far as to point out that it's the Danish acid scene of the time that they look to for inspiration (their name even translates as Liberty Cap, a common form of magic mushroom). Any notions of a band attempting to cash-in on this revival can be knocked on the head right away, as Spids Nøgenhat initially began as a side-project back in 1998, but reformed in 2009 for some gigs, and now their second album.

Paradoxically, 'Kommer Med Fred' (roughly translated as 'We Come In Peace') sounds incredibly familiar, like many bands you'll know, but at the same time is shrouded in mystery, and that's thanks in part to the lyrics being in Danish. This may not be mysterious to those who speak the language, but to those of us who don't it makes you wonder what the songs are about, especially given the strange sound effects and chanting of final track, the excellent 'Fred'. What we can say is that Amazon has every song on the album labelled as 'Explicit', something which makes you wonder even more. There are effects used right through the album, from the Hawkwind-like intro to 'Mere Lys', a superb acid-fried rock song that also uses what sounds like an electric jug (the instrument that gave those legendary 13th Floor Elevators tracks their unique sound). It feels like the beginning of a journey into the unknown, which is exactly what it is. Single 'Lolland Falster' is a bit like early Super Furry Animals with Neil Young on lead guitar, fronted by Joe Cocker or Chris Farlowe; throughout the album there's a lot of soul to be found. More upbeat, 'Lever Vi Nu?' actually sounds as though it's skipping along with ease, as if it didn't need writing, it just appeared. It's that natural, and Neil Young joins in again.

Then they throw in a cover of 'Den Gennemsigtige Mand' by Furekåben (a Danish band from the early '70s) which is an eight-minute odyssey filled with distorted guitar that doesn't outstay its welcome at all, in fact it makes for an epic centrepiece. Another more modern comparison could be to Swedish psych-rock titans The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, especially on slower songs like 'Spids Nøgenhat I Græsset', as they used a similar cocktail of strong vocals, past sounds and a modern twist. Judging by this record, Spids Nøgenhat are just as good, but possibly more consistent. They hold this form and this formula on 'Jorden Kalder', before stepping things up with the breezy highlight 'Vand, Brød Og Te'. It's the kind of song that has you hoping they don't leave it another decade or so before taking us on another trip. The only thing holding them back from making more of an impact in the UK, US or other English speaking nations is that they sing in their native tongue. And why shouldn't they? It actually adds an extra dimension to these songs, so if in doubt, give it a go. You might just find it to be one of the best albums of its kind released this year.







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