Somnambule - Writing About Music

Slowblow ~ Slowblow

Slowblow are an Icelandic duo with links to Múm whose singer, Kristin Anna Valtysdottir, guests on four tracks on this, their third album in ten years. If you’re not a fan of low-fi, acoustic songform then read no further...

Very Slow Bossanova begins with an endearing note of humour: a dead slow drum machine is joined after a few bars by reluctant piano chords before reverting to another cursory drum tattoo. The piano returns accompanied this time by vocals rendered in something between a whisper and a hushed conversation. Oh and there’s also a chirrup like a clockwork cicada in there. The whole ramshackle thing succeeds because of its melody which will have you humming in no time.

I Know You Can Smile introduces a duet between Múm’s Valtysdottir and Slowblow:

I know you can smile, I know you’ve got teeth
I know there’s a bad taste in your mouth
Is it the one, is the hate boy?
Is it because there’s no tomorrow?
I have lost my ways in this dark, dark light
The road is endless in the middle of the night

Another delightful tinpot drum machine rhythm starts up. There’s strummed nylon string guitar and gentle flourishes of electric guitar which carry just the hint of country. Tuneful, catchy and just a little spooky. The vocals on Happiness In Your Face funnily enough sound like Tenpole Tudor singing Who Killed Bambi?

Popular music is littered with personal takes on tried and tested genres by artists who stand outside of that genre’s tradition – perhaps the most obvious case being The Beatles’ pop take on black American r’n’b. Slowblow deliver a very particular interpretation of American hillbilly, other folk forms and rock’n’roll for the new millenium. The best examples create significantly new styles while the worst are a magnet for kitsch derision, the middle ground sometimes achieves a certain idiosyncratic status. All in all this album is a low-key, homemade affair weaving together a variety of different influences into an engaging whole.

Colin Buttimer
June 2004
Published by Milkfactory