When it comes to music,
Norway is known for one thing: loud, brutal cock rock. You have Turbonegro and Gluecifier, just to name two. But what happens when
Norway’s music culture is infiltrated by a folk songbird? What happens when cock rock extraordinaire Hank Von Helvete is challenged? Norwegian music is turned on its head, or at least it could be.
And maybe Norwegian singer-songwriter Oyvind Holm could be the indie wonder to do that. Unlike his gritty counterparts, Holm plays dreamy power pop with a folk twist, invoking a happier, and equally awkward, side of the late disgruntled Elliott Smith. Holm’s latest effort The Vanishing Act is chock full of subdued passion and acoustic wonderment that is part ’60s psychedelic garage and part soul-bearing amateur open-mic acoustic weirdness.
There is the sensuality of “Cut Me Loose,” a song about breaking up and breakingoff – about one man’s need to be free. And like its subject, “Cut me Loose” is tied up in chords and rhythms starving to be more with a semi-climatic chorus that fails to follow through. There is also the ’60s nostalgic track “Seven Years”, which is heavy on the guitars and drums, creating pure, driven garage rock. The title track, “The Vanishing Act,” is a keyboard driven wonderment that exudes a sweet harmony of loneliness. And last but not least, there is the retro track “Neighbourhood Watch Patrol,” a bluegrass inspired number that has a twang of the guitar, tapping of the foot, drone of the lap steel, and clapping of hands to thigh – all the elements of a country porch song.
In truth, The Vanishing Act swings like a pendulum, side-to-side, from disquieting to wistful. At points it is achingly simple, with melodic structures that draw on the most willowy of depressing sounds, while other times, it is predictably catchy, putting a kick in the gut and a smile on the face.