Norway - Full Moon 214 - 02/15/14
Bow To Each Other
The Urge Drums
The Oslo-based Norwegian-Canadian Bow To Each Other is an exciting new duo who present their debut album, The Urge Drum. Bow To Each Other are the creative couple of arranger, programmer, keyboardist and vocalist Gunhild Ramsay Kristoffersen (hailing from Karmøy, on the Western coast of Norway), and songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist Megan Kovacs (originally from Toronto, Canada). The Urge Drums was produced by acclaimed Norwegian artist Susanne Sundfør (being her debut as a producer), and it was mainly recorded in Sundfør's own Lady Lazarus studio.
Kristoffersen and Kovacs met while studying music in Liverpool, UK (at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts). After the studies
the two women moved to Norway where they formed Bow To Each Other (BTEO) in 2010. Like the say on their facebook-site, they wanted to: "...play pop music based on their collective song writing, synth ideas and vocal harmonies." The Urge Drums hold 10 tracks which explore many directions in popular music. According to their label, Jansen Plateproduksjon they are inspired by "...electronic, hip-hop, sacramental choral singing and 90s pop music...". As sources of inspiration BTEO drop names of bands and artists like Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, Salem, Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Susanne Sundfør (of course), Rufus Wainwright, Robyn, and Grimes.
BTEO's alternative pop-electronica sound and songs are both warm and cold, extrovert and introvert. The songs are mostly catchy, even though there are a few more distant moments as well. The quality of the album is lifted by very efficient and tight arrangements, as well as an extremely appealing minimalist song-writing style. Not that there are not bigger dramas inside some of the songs, with soundscapes take from a rich and colourful musical palette of sounds. Sometimes they are shamefully poppy, other times they flirt heavily with synths and keyboards leading your thoughts towards some of the instrumental acts they have listed as influences. "I don't hear all the noise" is a fine opener, while "Feathery smoke" is gracious and elegant, with a title that can describe the sound of BTEO as well. Their sound can be compared to something light and soaring as 'feathery smoke'. "Oh England, you're a bull" seems to be a love/hate song (?) to England, while "Darling" is a brittle heartbreak, end-of-love-song ballad. According to their label their lyrics are inspired by '...major upheavals in life, like moving to a new country with all the changes it entails, foreign language and new impulses.' One of the moodier tracks is simply called "Norway" (penned by Megan, I suppose?). Other lyrics deal with religion and sexuality; both Megan and Gunhild grew up in religious families, so the 'stress' that follows coming out as gay is an obvious issue for the couple when penning songs. Like another quote from their label goes: 'Times when you start doubting something you've always considered to be true.' The single "Darkness", "The Lull", and "Into Your Love" are all vibrant and shimmering songs, with multi-layers and depth inside them.
BTEO swim a creative lake for sure. The Urge Drums is a majestic listen. Comforting melancholia, with dance beats and ballads side by side. A nice blend of darkness and light. Like stated on their label's site: 'Bow To Each Other wishes to create music that in spite of its melancholy also indicates hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.' This quote is a core description of the music of BTEO.
Copyright © 2014 Håvard Oppøyen