Review: Kippi Kaninus – Happens Secretly
(Originally posted at TheFourOhFive.com)
A defining trait of indie music fans is their overwhelming predilection to support the underdog – this generally manifests itself in the worshipping of obscure, oddly-named artists who hide themselves in snow-topped cabins for months on end to make their hushed, reverent folk-songs, emerging long-haired and bearded (*cough* BON IVER *cough) and the disdain of sprawling, corporate stadium acts such as the eponymous unholy trinity of Coldplay/Keane/Snow Patrol.
Having that in mind, the debut album from Icelandic (far-out location – check) IDM artist Kippi Kaninus (odd, possibly foreign name – check) should be right up my street.
Add to that his presence in Iceland’s remarkable music scene over the last couple of years (spawning such beauty as Sigur Rós, Amiina and, of course, Bjork) resulting in a tour with Sigur Rós string section Amiina, I can almost feel the elaborate superlatives rolling off the tip of my tongue.
The album itself, however, does not deliver – the opener ‘The Comfort of My Eyes’ is the album’s high point; meshing the sound of a rewinding tape with a burbling child and various soft squeaking noises, it creates a warm, fluffy gauze of aimless sound; any melody rising up from the fuzz is quickly stifled by an army of feathery electronics.
Despite being over 7 minutes long ‘ The Comfort Of My Eyes’ is quickly over, leading into the ridiculously titled ‘whyshouldtheyounghavefaith’. At over 9 minutes, this is no easy listen, and Kippi is determined to make it even more of a struggle – it consists of discordant organ played over a wispy choir section and droning cello, and, as a track, is almost insultingly pointless – the appeal of IDM acts similar to Kippi Kaninus (Such as múm, amiina, the album leaf) surely is their simple, ethereal prettiness – but ‘Happens Secretly’ is devoid of such appeal.
The next track, ‘A Soft Living Thing’ is anything but soft – the organ is irritating, and sounds suspiciously like a keyboard set into demo mode, while an electronic drum machine patters in the background. To call it simple would be an understatement – it sounds like a polyphonic ringtone, and is about as enjoyable to listen to.
The rest of the album continues in the same, ephemeral vein – but, teasingly, there are some flashes of brilliance amongst the rubble. The cellos that swirl around ‘This Note is –D’ and the distorted sitar sample that enfolds itself in ‘Refrain’ all hint at a lusher, more complex electronic work, much like the ethereal sounds created by Kippi’s peers, but sadly these flashes are quickly stubbed out by waves of pointless electronic noodling.