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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 214 - 02/15/14

Ai Phoenix
Hey Now / Being Here Is Everything

A big, big welcome back to Ai Phoenix, seven (!) years after their last album, The Light Shines Almost All The Way (Glitterhouse 2007). They are old-time favourites here at LK HQ, since their string of pearls from 2000 and on, such as The Driver is Dead (Racing Junior 2000), Lean That Way Forever (Racing Junior 2002), and I've been gone - Letter one (Racing Junior 2003).

Ai Phoenix started as a party of three back in 1997, counting good friends Robert Jønnum, Patrick Lundberg, and Mona Mørk. Drummer (++) Bosse Litzheim joined in 1999 (along with guitar player, now long since ex-member Espen Mellingen). 1999 saw the release of their debut album, Film (Ai Phoenix Recordings/Dbut Records). During 2001 Jønnum (and Mellingen) left the band (after finishing Lean That Way Forever), and he's been busy as a producer (more and more) and a collaborator on a long line of projects, counting St. Thomas (Jønnum played alongside Thomas 'St. Thomas' Hansen in the band Emily Lang), Merry November, Alpine Those Myriads!, Thinguma*jigSaw, Bernhard & Bianca (Jønnum being 'Bernhard'...?), Kings Of Convenience, Empty Bottles Broken Hearts, and more. But. This is not about a lot of other bands and artists, or Jønnum only. This is about Ai Phoenix, because this new platter sees the original line-up gathered again, presenting a richer, juicier sound than ever. Thanks to a quartet of players multi-tasking when it comes to creating and performing music.: Mørk (vocals, percussion), Lundberg (vocals, guitars, keyboards, etc.), Jønnum (guitars, bass, piano, additional sounds, etc.), and Litzheim (drums, guitars, keyboards, piano, vocals, etc.) - as a multi-instrumental and highly talented unit they create dark but sweet melancholia.

In length Hey Now / Being Here Is Everything spins only for some 35 minutes, which is quite perfect if you're asking me. Eight songs. Period. Neat. When not being lengthy, the album spans more in depth and width, which shows the cleverness, creativeness and coolness of Ai Phoenix. Their slow-floating, low-toned, atmospheric rock aims for heart and head, and it hits bull's eye. Most of the time. Highly delicate and delicious compositions. Enchanting, thrilling, spellbinding songs, like being of an aerial or elevated kind. Almost being not of this world, not earthly, like in spiritual. However, primarily their songs and sound hold excellent dynamics and timbre magic, with a mystic, eerie twist. Ghost music. A bit similar to Bedhead. It is difficult to pick faves, because the album works so well as a whole, but "Where It Ends" and "I Was Just About To Forget" are two to mention.

It's quite interesting to see the band list their inspiration: 'Good friends, strange stories, bands/musicians like Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Vic Chestnut, Stina Nordenstam, Elvis, songs like "Tammy" (performed by Debbie Rainolds), "Sebastian" (by Cockney Rebel), film-makers like Hal Hartley, Aki Kaurismaki, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, paintings like Olympia (by Manet) and much more.' Maybe they are mundane, or extra-mundane after all.

Copyright © 2014 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Ai Phoenix articles/reviews: Happy To Get Her, I've been gone - Letter one, Lean That Way Forever, The Driver is Dead.

© 2014 Luna Kafé