Dokkemand: Hons!
Other Electricities

A good test of a recording's melodic caliber is to ponder how well it would hold up if its songs were transcribed into solo piano arrangements. On that count, Dokkemand's HØNS! would survive the transcription pretty well given how strongly its melodies embed themselves in your memory after a half-dozen listens or so. That Norwegian musician Marius Grøtterud Egenes dresses up his songs in a wild wardrobe of rainbow-coloured glitch-pop garb and frenetic rambunction isn't irrelevant but it's also secondary to the songs themselves. Of course it doesn't hurt that Egenes is joined by a handful of choice vocalists, including Cranes vocalist Alison Shaw, Kate Havnevik, and Carrie (Laura Becerra), among others.

The album's split between vocal and instrumental songs. Opener “Kanaria” sets the tone with explosive meteor showers of glockenspiels, broken beats, and warped arcade melodies, while the other instrumentals touch a number of bases too: “Stempel” exudes a kind of junkyard feel in its viral hip-hop, plus there's the rat-a-tat glitch-funk of “Lapp” and serpentine breakbeat splatter of “Lumpa.” Sounding like she's trying to out-Cruise Julee Cruise, Shaw brings her dream-like whisper to the album's most memorable song “Undulat”; the main vocal melody repeats throughout—not displeasingly—while Egenes wraps a pulsating mass of beat clatter, electric piano sprinkles, and synth warble around her. Lost Room (Sarah Hellström) also finds a perfect vehicle for her sunlit voice in the off-kilter “Klokka er 76” while the combination of Kate Havnevik's singing and Egenes' darkly dramatic arrangement in “Lupe” calls to mind Post -era Björk. Sounding at times like a slightly drunk and rather disheveled Lullatone, HØNS! is the kind of rainbow-coloured electro-pop panorama one might normally expect to find on Audio Dregs.

February 2009