Denmark’s duo Vektormusik is an oddity, and we like oddities. The cover reflects the title, which becomes apparent by reading the press release: the English word “mobile” becomes “uro” in Danish, but “uro” translated back into English becomes “unrest”. Each of these aspects applies to the recording, a sweet slice of white vinyl with a running time of 36 minutes. One might say that the sounds of Vektormusik are hung like objects from a mobile: sub-bass, strings, piano, drums, crunchy electronics. Each finds its place like ornaments on a tree. The sense of unrest is found in an ongoing unwillingness to settle upon a single genre. While classical and kraut might not seem to go together, neither did chocolate and chipotle until around two years back; this too is a new flavor, biding its time.
With so many genres and ingredients in the mix, Uro / Unrest could have been a mess. Instead, it’s a remarkably cohesive album, united by its sense of rhythm. The beat may be carried by a keyboard, laptop or drum, but it’s still a beat, a framework in which the other sounds come to rest. This single accessible feature allows the other instruments to wander far afield, from dronelike sub-tones and jazzy improvisations to experimental detours. If the album were trying to please, it wouldn’t work quite as well; its purpose seems not to be entertainment, but investigation. Vektormusik’s curiosity wins the listener over as well. Track by track, one wonders what’s coming next.
The deep strings of “Friløb” provide an early highlight; the duo seems to be aware that this track is particularly exquisite, as it is later revisited in an epilogue. This repetition provides the album with a sense of continuity; the duo knows what they are doing, and now the listeners know that they know. While the album is best heard as a whole, other highlights include the snare ‘n’ bass of “Slumb” and the raindrop rhythms of the neo-classical/drone hybrid “MSY”. Together, they are even stronger.
Uro / Unrest was nominated for a Nordic Music Prize; it’s nice to know that the people of Denmark are able to embrace something so out of the ordinary. Now it’s time for the rest of the world to catch up. (Richard Allen)