With Autumn firmly upon us, we need an album to accompany the browned fallen leaves and changed air. One for the ever longer nights and encroaching winter. We need an album that truly helps satisfy the season of the soul. Step right up Konradsen whose debut long player, 'Saints And Sebastian Stories' provides such nourishment and much more besides.
The duo, vocalist and pianist Jenny Marie Sabel and multi-instrumentalist Eirik Vildgren, hail from Norway. They reside in Oslo but trace their roots back to the far north of the country. It’s from this remote setting that one imagines them performing these songs alone with only the northern lights for company.
Alas, if that sounds a little too remote and chilly then do not despair for Konradsen ultimately deal in warmth and intimacy. The group might officially consist of just two members, but they enlist the help of friends and family to infuse their songs with a homespun communal spirit.
On ‘Big Bruce’ the sound of a family friend impersonating a televangelist is taken from an old VHS tape belonging to Sabel’s father. The fragile opening of ‘Baby Hallelujah’ gives way to a meditative chorus made up of the layered voices of close friends. It’s a brilliantly self-sufficient approach and one which adds an authentic layer of sincerity to the proceedings.
The bedrock of Konradsen’s sound is the marriage of minimalist piano with Sabel’s soulful vocals. It would be captivating enough if left alone but this is built on throughout with atmospheric electronics, ambient sounds and programmed beats. Indeed, the instrumentation on show here and the flourishes of horns in particular are used in the most devastatingly effective way.
One fine example being the explosion of saxophone on second half highlight, ‘Roasted.’ It all adds up to an impressively accomplished debut and one that opens up many avenues for the duo to explore with future releases.
Konradsen's warm intimacy both strangely familiar but uniquely their own is one which will stay with you in the months and years to come. Welcome to their world. Won’t you come on in?
Words: Nicolas Graves
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