Today’s music is from Sweden , but it’s not death metal (sadly). It’s an electronic duo from 2006…and for those of you with short attention spans…it’s another short album clocking in around 40mins. So enjoy…
Koop – Koop Islands
Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Koop+Koop+Islands/75962297
Read About the Group here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koop_%28band%29
Fun Facts: In 2007, their song “Koop Island Blues” was featured in a trailer for the videogame World in Conflict called “Destruction Blues”. It was later later featured as the loading screen music in game. In 2009, it made its return in World in Conflict: Soviet Assault trailer called “Destruction Blues II”. In 2009, “Koop Island Blues” was featured in American TV show So You Think You Can Dance. The song ‘Strange Love’ was also featured in a commercial for Coca Cola. Also in the same year, their song “Koop Island Blues” was featured as the intro music for the videogame The Saboteur released by Electronic Arts for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC in 2009.
Koop – Koop Islands
I know that I was only supposed to have one guest suggestion, but as Season three came rolling around, I admitted to my friend Drew that I was having difficulty coming up with albums. That was when he suggested Koop. I remembered hearing it during a few bonfire boozing nights, so I’m not a complete stranger to it. So consider this a curiosity pick of mine.
While it’s not something that I would like to focus all of my attention on when listening to it, there is enough in the album for me to suggest songs for a playlist, or to include on a “You might dig this” CD exchange that I need to start making and distributing again.
Koop Island Blues – This makes me think of a fantastical place where the French Riviera has a longer beach and a steel drum band plays as a gorgeously lithe slip of a girl sings and sways her miniscule hips. Her hands tell a story almost like a hula dancer. The culture mix in my brain even encourages more of a stop-motion, Tim Burton style animation. Perhaps she is crooning to Oyster Boy.
Forces… Darling – I didn’t know that there was a male vocalist. It initially sounded a bit like one of the swing resurgents, like BBVD and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, but it eventually went more dark clubhouse jazz versus big band.
Beyond the Son – Spoken word over this? In a really dirty, raspy UK accent? F**king yes. That.
Drum Rhythm A – I dig that they would include one of their samplings. I have a bunch of friends that are musically blessed that would totally pull some of the beat or even rap right over it.
Least favorite track/tracks:
Come to Me – The fact that some of the chord progression sounds like a Christmas carol (Deck the Halls) was a big deterrent for me. I did like the vocalization and the hand claps, but the sample took so much out of the song for me to actually be able to enjoy it.
I See A Different You – You would think that something with more jazz influence wouldn’t be in this section, but out of the other songs in the album, it felt like this was the song that played it safe the most. The fusion between different styles was honestly what piqued my curiosity to begin with. If I wanted to listen to jazz, it’s been done better.
Overall (1-5 stars): 4
Koop – Koop Islands – Uhh yeah. These dudes were much better when they were called The Avalanches. Oh word, these dudes were never the avalanches? Well The Avalances kick these dudes ass. And therefore they recieve a 2.1
Preconceived Notions: Oh Yes!! I should have listened to this album a long time ago, back when Evan did his dance on So You Think You Can Dance to it! Among fans of the show that dance is known as the “Butt Dance”…seriously, you can see why for yourself.
The dance itself was also featured in this season when they did the Mia Michaels tribute show, in case you guys were just itching to know. I love So You Think You Can Dance, and I don’t even feel the least bit guilty about it. Feel free to let that knowledge render any of my opinions pointless to you from now on.
After Listening: One side of my brain keeps telling me that the Muzak-esqueness of some of these tracks should turn me off. The other side of my brain just wants to be on a boat in southern France in July drinking champagne and wearing an Hermes headscarf. It’s an album chock full of minor variations on Whatever Lola Wants from Damn Yankees (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kjQmgm0r4g) though I do think it delivers on the “Islands” promise in the album title. There’s a feeling that this is the music I would expect from a Big Band style club on Monaco , and that’s kind of an awesome feeling. It’s not necessarily adventurous beyond this niche, but this is the kind of niche I could live in, eating fresh baguettes and good cheese while wearing A-line skirts at night. I just like the things that it made me think of when I was listening to it and the escapism that it offered me.
Favorite Track: Koop Island Blues/Let’s Elope
Least Favorite Track: Beyond The Son-ugh spoken word is a tough thing to carry off and the only time I like it is when it’s happening on the Il Postino soundtrack and the words spoken are Pablo Neruda’s.
Preconceived Notions: Seems like electronica mixed with 40’s and 50’s style jazz and island music. This could be interesting and/or fun, a mix of genres can sometimes be a train wreck – but even then it’s worth slowing down to look at all the bodies hanging out of the windows.
After Listening: Welp, I missed the boat on that one…there’s precious little genre melding here. In fact about 100% of the electronic stuff here must be done to cut corners on having live musicians rather than adding anything on the soundscape. I mean I guess there are some moments where you can tell the music is electronic…but more in the – “oh that sticks out terribly” type of moment. Disappointing. Ok, so dealing with this as a largely straight forward jazz swing album…it’s…bleh. Likely due to the massive production it feels vaguely inauthentic-and I don’t level that charge at bands often. One of the things that makes swing- swing (combined with elements of calypso, …or whatever “island” label you want to attach to the influences here)- is that the authentic forms of these styles have a lot to do with the interplay of musicians jamming. The more produced you make these forms of music the more you rob them of their depth, this album sounds as if people are trying way too hard to make this album- and the result is a middle of the road noncommittal result. I wasn’t surprised it’s been used in video games etc…as it’s the type of vaguely generic “safe” music that could be substituted for a variety of situations without really driving the listener to think of anything in particular. Its musical qualities are not helped by some terribly weak sounding male vocals whose thinness at times is distracting…although I will stick up for the female vocals on this…they aren’t in good arrangements, but you can tell at least she can sing.
Favorite Track – Koop Island Blues – you can see why this was the “hit” of the album. 1st it features engaging female vocals (one of the few placers on the entire album where you connect with the vocals). 2nd the musical samples used are more accurately true to the jazz spirit here than on most places, the rhythms in particular actually feel like swing rhythms…and the big band clarinet and horns actually do have a jam session that represents the genre fairly well. Unfortunately it’s as if they did this track, and then instead of expanding on this promise…they promptly forgot about it and moved on to blander things.
Least Favorite Tracks: Let’s Elope – I would think this is a parody song, except since it’s like the 5th track on the album I can infer it’s supposed to be serious. The vocals on this are cringe worthy- thin with odd accents, ugh.
Beyond the Son – there’s a line in this not particularly clever faux stream of consciousness that refers to the author not being able to be witty enough to come up with something to spray paint on a wall. Yeah no kidding…. And please leave Monk out of your ramblings…it’s insulting to him.
Overall 2.33 Usually I like to give a group credit for the effort it takes to construct something. Clearly reading about the band I can see that they take a meticulous approach to sampling their music etc. But the frustrating thing here is that they really do nothing with all of that work….they construct songs which any live band could replicate. Worse yet, a live band could give them a little of the depth and soul this album seems to lack. This is jazz with a cute, over refined Swedish veneer – an unfortunately sanitized homage to a genre that let’s face it, was already pretty straight laced. I could see some people enjoying this as a light listen, but to me there is zero replay value here.
Koop – Koop Islands
Preconceived Notions: Swedish Electronic duo? This is going to be a rough week…
After Listening: I guess “electronic” means “recorded on a Mac”.
Favorite Tracks: Koop Island Blues has the best vocals on this album. It makes me want a comfortable lawn chair, a cold glass of Seaport White, and a deck overlooking Fisher Island Sound. The Benny Goodman-meets-James Bond music of Forces… Darling more than makes up for the minimal lyrics.
Least Favorite Tracks: Beyond the Son is an elevator pitch for the film Jason Statham, Beat Poet. Drum Rhythm A was written for the final level of Donkey Kong Country. What an awesome game that was…
Overall: My fears were unfounded, as this potential morning killer turned out to be perfectly harmless 60s-era Poppy Swedish Spacejazz. I can’t be the only person picturing Audrey Hepburn whizzing around in a silly little French coupe during the opening track. Cut to a 26-year-old Peter O’Toole in a bespoke Saville Row suit surrounded by blonde women in maribu-trimmed bikinis. This was little too sweet and fluffy, but still good. Like a s’more.
Prelisten Guess: 3.0